Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Sunday, January 29, 2006
In This Time, In this Place
Now life devalues day by day
As friends and neighbors turn away
And there's a change that, even with regret, cannot be undone
Now frontiers shift like desert sands
While nations wash their bloodied hands
Of loyalty, of history, in shades of grey
Pink Floyd -A Great Day For Freedom
This week should tell the tale. I don't believe the Democrats have a chance in hell of blocking Alito's confirmation, however if they refuse to even attempt a filibuster, we may as well forget our hopes for a return to any sort of democracy.
I believe this is the high-water mark for America. For years now we have watched the slow erosion of our civil liberties and the destruction of democracy. If the Democrats refuse to fight on this issue which is so important, then we will indeed by a one party nation.
We've had so many turning points, so many chances to stop our headlong rush into the brutal horror that is fascism.
And now we have our final chance for the opposition party to stand up.
Impeachment won't matter. Investigations won't matter. This is where the Democrats show whether they have any say left in our government. The epidemic of lawlessness and corruption must be fought right here and right now.
Because if not now, as far as legal and peaceful opposition goes, there is no when.
This is the moment on which history turns. This will be the moment when we people of good conscience find out if we have any political leaders left.
This is either the beginning of our long fight back, or the end of our Republic as we know it.
Friday, January 27, 2006
"To say 'unchecked power' basically is ascribing some kind of dictatorial position to the president, which I strongly reject, I am doing what you expect me to do, and at the same time, safeguarding the civil liberties of the country. As president and commander in chief I have the constitutional responsibility and the constitutional authority to protect our country."
George W. Bush
December 19, 2005
"If anyone reproaches me and asked why I did not resort to the regular courts of justice, then all I can say is this : In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I became the supreme judge of the German people."
Adolf Hitler July 13, 1934
So our "invincible" military can't defend itself against underfunded amateurs with toy remote controls and old Russian rifles, they decide that this might work:
The U.S. Army in Iraq has at least twice seized and jailed the wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of "leveraging" their husbands into surrender, U.S. military documents show.
In one case, a secretive task force locked up the young mother of a nursing baby, a U.S. intelligence officer reported. In the case of a second detainee, one American colonel suggested to another that they catch her husband by tacking a note to the family's door telling him "to come get his wife."
The issue of female detentions in Iraq has taken on a higher profile since kidnappers seized American journalist Jill Carroll on Jan. 7 and threatened to kill her unless all Iraqi women detainees are freed.
During the pre-operation brief it was recommended by TF personnel that if the wife were present, she be detained and held in order to leverage the primary target's surrender," wrote the 14-year veteran officer.
He said he objected, but when they raided the house the team leader, a senior sergeant, seized her anyway.
"The 28-year-old woman had three young children at the house, one being as young as six months and still nursing," the intelligence officer wrote. She was held for two days and was released after he complained, he said.
By all means, let's support our bullying, murdering, cowardly troops.
Can't link to the story from the AP, my computer at work only uses Internet Explorer and it will not create links for blogger. I would post the URL but it's about 12 miles long. If anyone has a link that works please put it in comments.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Senator Boxer (sigh)
Got an e-mail from Barbara Boxer's PAC about Alito.
I can't stand the sight of Democrats these days but I still have a special place in my heart for little Barbara.
We thought you may be interested in reading the text of a speech that Senator Boxer delivered yesterday, laying out her opposition to the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court:
Today, I am announcing my opposition to the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court of the United States.
According to Article II of the Constitution, justices of the Supreme Court may not be appointed by the president without the advice and consent of the United States Senate. So it is our solemn duty to consider each nomination carefully, keeping in mind the interests of the American people. And this nomination is particularly crucial because the stakes have rarely been so high.
First, consider the context in which this nomination comes before us. The seat that Judge Alito has been nominated for is now held by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who came to the Court in 1981.
For years, Justice O'Connor has provided the tie-breaking vote and a commonsense voice of reason in some of the most important cases to come before the Court, including a woman's right to choose, civil rights, and freedom of religion.
Second, consider the tumultuous political climate in our nation. President Bush understood that in 2000 when he promised to govern from the center, and be "a uniter, not a divider." Sadly, this nomination shows that he has forgotten that promise because it is notnfrom the center and it is not uniting the nation.
The right thing to do would have been to give us a justice in the mold of Justice O'Connor, and that is what the president should have done.
Let me be clear: I do not deny Judge Alito's judicial qualifications. He has been a government lawyer and judge for more than 20 years and the American Bar Association rated him well qualified. He is an intelligent and capable person. His family should be proud of him and all Americans should be proud that the American dream was there for the Alito family.
But after reviewing the hearing record and the record of his statements, writings and rulings over the past 24 years, I am convinced that Judge Alito is the wrong person for this job.
I am deeply concerned about how Justice Alito will impact the ability of other families to live the American dream -- to be assured of privacy in their homes and their personal lives, to be secure in their neighborhoods, to have fair treatment in the workplace, and to have confidence that the power of the executive branch will be checked.
As I reviewed Judge Alito's record, I asked whether he will vote to preserve fundamental American liberties and values --
Will Justice Alito vote to uphold Congress' constitutional power to pass laws to protect Americans' health, safety, and welfare? Judge Alito's record says NO.
In the 1996 Rybar case, Judge Alito voted to strike down the federal ban on the transfer or possession of machine guns because he believed it exceeded Congress' power under the Commerce Clause. His Third Circuit colleagues sharply criticized his dissent and said that it ran counter to "a basic tenet of the constitutional separation of powers." And Judge Alito's extremist view has been rejected by six other circuit courts and the Supreme Court. Judge Alito stood alone and failed to protect our families.
In a case concerning worker protection, Judge Alito was again in the minority when he said that federal mine health and safety standards did not apply to a coal processing site. He tried to explain it as just a "technical issue of interpretation." I fear for the safety of our workers if Judge Alito's narrow, technical reading of the law should ever prevail.
Will Justice Alito vote to protect the right to privacy, especially a woman's reproductive freedom? Judge Alito's record says NO.
We have all heard about Judge Alito's 1985 job application, in which he wrote that the constitution does not protect the right of a woman to choose. He was given the chance to disavow that position during the hearings -- and he refused to do so. He had the chance to say, as Judge Roberts did, that Roe v. Wade is settled law, and he refused.
He had the chance to explain his dissent in the Casey decision, in which he argued that the Pennsylvania spousal notification requirement was not an undue burden on a woman seeking an abortion because it would affect only a small number of women, but he refused to back away from his position. The Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, found the provision to be unconstitutional, and Justice O'Connor, co-writing for the Court, criticized the faulty analysis supported by Judge Alito, saying that "the analysis does not end with the one percent of women" affected... "it begins there."
To my mind, Judge Alito's ominous statements and narrow-minded reasoning clearly signal a hostility to women's rights, and portend a move back toward the dark days when abortion was illegal in many states, and many women died as a result. In the 21st century, it is astounding that a Supreme Court nominee would not view Roe v. Wade as settled law when its fundamental principle -- a woman's right to choose -- has been reaffirmed many times since it was decided.
Will Justice Alito vote to protect Americans from unconstitutional searches? Judge Alito's record says NO.
In Doe v. Groody in 2004, he said a police strip search of a 10-year-old girl was lawful, even though their search warrant didn't name her. Judge Alito said that even if the warrant did not actually authorize the search of the girl, "a reasonable police officer could certainly have read the warrant as doing so..." This casual attitude toward one of our most basic constitutional guarantees -- the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches -- is almost shocking. As Judge Alito's own Third Circuit Court said regarding warrants, "a particular description is the touchstone of the Fourth Amendment." We certainly do not need Supreme Court justices who do not understand this fundamental constitutional protection.
Will Justice Alito vote to let citizens stop companies from polluting their communities? Judge Alito's record says NO.
In the Magnesium Elektron case, Judge Alito voted to make it harder for citizens to sue for toxic emissions that violate the Clean Water Act. Fortunately, in another case several years later, the Supreme Court rejected the Third Circuit and Alito's narrow reading of the law. Judge Alito doesn't seem to care about a landmark environmental law.
Will Justice Alito vote to let working women and men have their day in court against employers who discriminate against them? Judge Alito's record says NO.
In 1997, in the Bray case, Judge Alito was the only judge on the Third Circuit to say that a hotel employee claiming racial discrimination could not take her case to a jury.
In the Sheridan case, a female employee sued for discrimination, alleging that after she complained about incidents of sexual harassment, she was demoted and marginalized to the point that she was forced to quit. By a vote of 10 to 1, the Third Circuit found for the plaintiff.
Guess who was the one? Only Judge Alito thought the employee should have to show that discrimination was the "determinative cause" of the employer's action. Using his standard would make it almost impossible for a woman claiming discrimination in the workplace to get to trial.
Finally, will Justice Alito be independent from the executive branch that appointed him, and be a vote against power grabs by the president? Judge Alito's record says NO.
As a lawyer in the Reagan Justice Department, he authored a memo suggesting a new way for the president to encroach on Congress' lawmaking powers. He said that when the president signs a law, he should make a statement about the law, giving it his own interpretation, whether it was consistent with what Congress had written or not. He wrote that this would "get in the last word on questions of interpretation" of the law. In the hearings, Judge Alito refused to back away from this memo.
When asked whether he believed the president could invade another country, in the absence of an imminent threat, without first getting the approval of the American people, of Congress, Judge Alito refused to rule it out.
When asked if the president had the power to authorize someone to engage in torture, Alito refused to answer.
The Administration is now asserting vast powers, including spying on American citizens without seeking warrants -- in clear violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- violating international treaties, and ignoring laws that ban torture. We need justices who will put a check on such overreaching by the executive, not rubberstamp it. Judge Alito's record and his answers at the hearings raise very serious doubts about his commitment to being a strong check on an 'imperial president.'
In addition to these substantive matters, I remain concerned about Judge Alito's answers regarding his membership in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton and his failure to recuse himself from the Vanguard case, which he had promised to do.
During the hearings, we all felt great compassion for Mrs. Alito when she became emotional in reaction to the tough questions her husband faced in the Judiciary Committee. Everyone in politics knows how hard it is for families when a loved one is asked tough questions. It is part of a difficult process, and whoever said politics is not for the faint of heart was right.
Emotions have run high during this process. That's understandable. But I wish the press have focused more on the tears of those who will be affected if Judge Alito becomes Justice Alito and his out-of-the mainstream views prevail.
I worry about the tears of a worker who, having failed to get a promotion because of discrimination, is denied the opportunity to pursue her claim in court.
I worry about the tears of a mentally ill woman who is forced by law to tell her husband that she wants to terminate her pregnancy and is afraid that he will leave her or stop supporting her.
I worry about the tears of a young girl who is strip searched in her own home by police who have no valid warrant.
I worry about the tears of a mentally retarded man, who has been brutally assaulted in his workplace, when his claim of workplace harassment is dismissed by the court simply because his lawyer failed to file a well written brief on his behalf.
These are real cases in which Judge Alito has spoken.
Fortunately, he did not prevail in these cases. But if he goes to the Supreme Court, he will have a much more powerful voice -- a radical voice that will replace a voice of moderation and balance.
Perhaps the most important statement Judge Alito made during the entire hearing process was when he told the Judiciary Committee that he expects to be the same kind of justice on the Supreme Court as he has been a judge on the Circuit Court.
That is precisely the problem. As a judge, Samuel Alito seemed to approach his cases with an analytical coldness that reflected no concern for the human consequences of his reasoning.
Listen to what he said about a case involving an African-American man convicted of murder by an all white jury in a courtroom where the prosecutors had eliminated all African-American jurors in many previous murder trials as well.
Judge Alito dismissed this evidence of racial bias and said that the jury makeup was no more relevant than the fact that left-handers have won five of the last six presidential elections. When asked about this analogy during the hearings, he said it "went to the issue of statistics... (which) is a branch of mathematics, and there are ways to analyze statistics so that you draw sound conclusions from them..."
That response would have been appropriate for a college math professor, but it is deeply troubling from a potential Supreme Court justice.
As the great jurist and Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. wrote in 1881, "The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience... The law embodies the story of a nation's development through many centuries, and it cannot be dealt with as if it contained only the axioms and corollaries of a book of mathematics."
What Holmes meant is that the law is a living thing, that those who interpret it must do so with wisdom and humanity, and with an understanding of the consequences of their judgments for the lives of the people they affect.
It is with deep regret that I conclude that Judge Alito's judicial philosophy lacks this wisdom, humanity and moderation. He is simply too far out of the mainstream in his thinking. His opinions demonstrate neither the independence of mind nor the depth of heart that I believe we need in our Supreme Court justices, particularly at this crucial time in our nation's history.
That is why I will oppose this nomination.
Meet the new boss......
Good. Fuck Fatah.
They've had their chance. Hamas surely can't do any worse.
The Israelis wanted the moderates to win so it could be business as usual in the Occupied Territories. When innocent children are gunned down by the IDF, there is lots of hand wringing and finger pointing on the part of the Palestinian "leadership". Maybe leaders with itchy trigger fingers and nothing to lose will make the Zionist bastards think twice.
Bring me the head of Big Bird
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Murder. Torture and murder. That's what any "insurgent" or "terrorist" who surrenders to American forces can expect.
A jury found that CWO Lewis E. Welshofer Jr. didn't murder Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush when he tortured him to death in November of 2003. Instead they convicted him of negligent homicide and dereliction of duty.
Here is what is now considered negligent homicide:
.... stuff Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush into the sleeping bag, bind him with an electrical cord, straddle his chest and occasionally cover his mouth.
An autopsy showed that the General died of "heart failure".
This is after the tender mercies of the CIA handlers:
Welshofer had interrogated the general several times, once slapping him in the chest, before the interviews turned markedly more violent, according to witnesses at the trial. Iraqi nationals apparently in the employ of the CIA entered the interrogation room Nov. 24 and beat Mowhoush for 30 minutes with rubber hoses and insulation.
The next day, Welshofer's team took Mowhoush to the prison roof and pinned him down while the lead interrogator poured water on his face, according to multiple witnesses. Welshofer and another interrogator also repeatedly hit the general's elbows.
A 57 year-old Major General that SURRENDERED.
This guy was allegedly a Saddam confidant so I've no doubt he was no innocent, but Jesus Christ, this guy was a POW.
So here is a lesson for the present and future members of the Resistance fighting the American Empire:
Don't surrender to the Americans. They will torture and perhaps murder you.
Fight to the death.
The "R" Word
In an excerpt from Paul Craig Roberts' Fooled Again, a word I keep hearing whispered these days:
"Miller directs our attention to Bush's high-handed treatment of dissenters. If electronic voting machines programmed by private Republican firms remain in our future, dissent will become pointless unless it boils over into revolution. Power-mad Republicans need to consider the result when democracy loses its legitimacy and only the rich have anything to lose."
Also, I recommend you visit a blog called The Autonomist. I'm not linking to it because I don't want any of us traced back here. I like our nice, quiet place here and don't want lots of neo-con trolls about. Use a search engine or it's blogspot.com address to find it. If you scroll down you will find an incredibly nasty rant about a new SDS that's attempting to organize. Sounds like the author is more afraid than anything else. He should be. The radical left getting it's shit together and realizing how little we have to lose by resisting is something that should give all of these little brownshirts nightmares.
More about the "R" word. Like all of you, I see our world and the various and terrible forms of injustice that are mostly the rule, and I want change. Revolution. Any sane person would. That's us, the lefties, the dreamers who have seen enough blood and anger and it drove us all sane.
I always thought the idea of peaceful, and if I'm going to be brutally honest, violent revolution was a romantic notion.
Not anymore. Not with the situation staring us in the face. I know such change is terrifying and often bloody and now that such fanciful thoughts have met cold reality, I'm scared to death. Oh I know I'm a very little fish in an enormous pond, and there are a thousand so-called "traitors" that would have to be extraordinarily rendered before I get a knock on my door, but for the first time since all of this started, I am truly afraid.
I'm not running, I'm not leaving my country. I will not cast my family into the role of refugees. Not while there may still be hope, not while we still can resist. My first thought after hearing about the seizure of search engine records was to get out of blogging. This is an arrow pointing directly at my family and I. However, after soul searching and a verbal asskicking from my wife, ( "That defeats the whole purpose of what you've been doing") I will continue to broadcast here until we either win and the criminals running our government are stopped, or they take me away.
Until then, careful what you link to. Progressive blogs and news sites are fine, but try to avoid direct links to right-wing blogs or sites. I don't want to have to only allow registered members to post comments. Send folks you trust here if you like, but let's be careful about who gets invited to play.
Keep Green September quietly off of the radar. I the future we may have to pass along information or news that's being censored. We may not have safe ways of communicating and we will need a place to gather for more than discussion and debate.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Dave Lindorff at This Can't Be Happening gives us a roll call of those still brave enough to dissent:
In a legislature full of gutless cowards and corporate bootlickers, that handfull of people of courage who genuinely care that the White House is sucking the life out of the Constitution like a bloated leech should be held up to public acclaim.
So here they are:
On House Resolution 635, calling for formation of a Select Committee, the co-sponsors are Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Shiela Jackson Lee (D-TX), Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).
On H.R. 636, calling for censure of President Bush, the co-sponsors are Rep. Waters, Rep. Woollsey, Rep. Rangel, and Rep. Lofgren.
On H.R. 637, calling for censure of Cheney, the same four co-sponsors of H.R. 636 are joined by Rep. Jackson Lee.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
They will have to pry my keyboard from my cold, dead hands
Bastard fascist rat assholes are after everybody's Google search records to help stop naughty pictures on the Web.
Ok, now they're really starting to piss me off.
Update: Thank you to various commenters for the links.
"Google has opposed the request. Yahoo and AOL have acknowledged complying, saying that they went along with the government's request but did not turn over personally identifiable information. At the time this was written, Microsoft was refusing to say anything, but the ACLU has confirmed that the company did comply."
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Yahoo News Bitch Slaps Scott McClellan
This is what the President's dancing monkey, Scott McClellan, had to say about Al Gore's speech yesterday as reported by Yahoo News:
"If Al Gore is going to be the voice of the Democrats on national security matters, we welcome it," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said in a swipe at the Democrat, who lost the 2000 election to Bush. McClellan said the Clinton-Gore administration had engaged in warrantless physical searches, and he cited an FBI search of the home of CIA turncoat Aldrich Ames without permission from a judge. He said Clinton's deputy attorney general, Jamie Gorelick, had testified before Congress that the president had the inherent authority to engage in physical searches without warrants. "I think his hypocrisy knows no bounds," McClellan said of Gore.
Smarmy, smug, and slimy, right?
But in the next paragraph, the writer for Yahoo catches poor Scotty with his pants down:
But at the time that of the Ames search in 1993 and when Gorelick testified a year later, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act required warrants for electronic surveillance for intelligence purposes, but did not cover physical searches. The law was changed to cover physical searches in 1995 under legislation that Clinton supported and signed.
Here's a link to the story.
There's blood in the water folks and oh it smells so good!
The storm spirals and turns.War drums in the night
My fearful heartbeat
Bombs, fear, and god
the sweetbitter cocktail for a thirst older than our words
Desert winds, hot with the chants
hate and fear and god and sex and all those things
that make death a necessary visitor
I sit in the belly of the Great Satan
I'm fearful and hating too
No chants No bombs
Quiet, with only our great plastic need
Afraid. I want to be old someday.
No occupation this time. No checkpoints. No Green Zone.
only fire from above
As the faces of the innocent and guilty
New Favorite Picture
Nothing to see here, move along
Just for the fun of it I channel surfed between the three major networks evening news yesterday. Not one mention of Al Gore's speech on any of the big three.
Big surprise, I know.
The good news is that it's all over the web. I've been reading some of the right-wing blogs and they are just pitiful in their attempts to attack the content of Gore's speech.
I'm very excited and relieved. Fuck the Main Stream Media. Fuck Fox News and fuck CNN.
It doesn't matter. It's out there. It's been said. The President broke the law and now must pay the price. Period.
Analysis doesn't matter, coverage doesn't matter. It's enough that the words have been spoken. The brain dead that watched the Golden Globes rather than watch C-Span broadcast one of the best political speeches in our country's history aren't paying attention anyway. These are the folks that won't notice anything amiss until their house is bulldozed to make way for the internment camps.
I'm relieved because it's not just us freaky bloggers sounding the alarm anymore.
More on all of this later. Sleepy. Bed now.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Speak it, brother
What follows, my friends, is no less than history in the making. This is no blogger in his basement saying these truths, it is no partisan talking head. These words are spoken by a former Vice-President and if law truly held sway, the legally elected President of the United States. He pulls no punches and makes a speech that reverberates with both hope for the Republic and scorn for those who would destroy her.
When this tale is told in the history books, this speech will be remembered with honor.
Full text of Al Gore's speech today:
Congressman Barr and I have disagreed many times over the years, but we have joined together today with thousands of our fellow citizens-Democrats and Republicans alike-to express our shared concern that America's Constitution is in grave danger.
In spite of our differences over ideology and politics, we are in strong agreement that the American values we hold most dear have been placed at serious risk by the unprecedented claims of the Administration to a truly breathtaking expansion of executive power.
As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress to prevent such abuses.
It is imperative that respect for the rule of law be restored.
So, many of us have come here to Constitution Hall to sound an alarm and call upon our fellow citizens to put aside partisan differences and join with us in demanding that our Constitution be defended and preserved.
It is appropriate that we make this appeal on the day our nation has set aside to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who challenged America to breathe new life into our oldest values by extending its promise to all our people.
On this particular Martin Luther King Day, it is especially important to recall that for the last several years of his life, Dr. King was illegally wiretapped-one of hundreds of thousands of Americans whose private communications were intercepted by the U.S. government during this period.
The FBI privately called King the "most dangerous and effective negro leader in the country" and vowed to "take him off his pedestal." The government even attempted to destroy his marriage and blackmail him into committing suicide.
This campaign continued until Dr. King's murder. The discovery that the FBI conducted a long-running and extensive campaign of secret electronic surveillance designed to infiltrate the inner workings of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and to learn the most intimate details of Dr. King's life, helped to convince Congress to enact restrictions on wiretapping.
The result was the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA), which was enacted expressly to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance would be presented to an impartial judge to verify that there is a sufficient cause for the surveillance. I voted for that law during my first term in Congress and for almost thirty years the system has proven a workable and valued means of according a level of protection for private citizens, while permitting foreign surveillance to continue.
Yet, just one month ago, Americans awoke to the shocking news that in spite of this long settled law, the Executive Branch has been secretly spying on large numbers of Americans for the last four years and eavesdropping on "large volumes of telephone calls, e-mail messages, and other Internet traffic inside the United States." The New York Times reported that the President decided to launch this massive eavesdropping program "without search warrants or any new laws that would permit such domestic intelligence collection."
During the period when this eavesdropping was still secret, the President went out of his way to reassure the American people on more than one occasion that, of course, judicial permission is required for any government spying on American citizens and that, of course, these constitutional safeguards were still in place.
But surprisingly, the President's soothing statements turned out to be false. Moreover, as soon as this massive domestic spying program was uncovered by the press, the President not only confirmed that the story was true, but also declared that he has no intention of bringing these wholesale invasions of privacy to an end.
At present, we still have much to learn about the NSA's domestic surveillance. What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently.
A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers were adamant that they had established a government of laws and not men. Indeed, they recognized that the structure of government they had enshrined in our Constitution - our system of checks and balances - was designed with a central purpose of ensuring that it would govern through the rule of law. As John Adams said: "The executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them, to the end that it may be a government of laws and not of men."
An executive who arrogates to himself the power to ignore the legitimate legislative directives of the Congress or to act free of the check of the judiciary becomes the central threat that the Founders sought to nullify in the Constitution - an all-powerful executive too reminiscent of the King from whom they had broken free. In the words of James Madison, "the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."
Thomas Paine, whose pamphlet, "On Common Sense" ignited the American Revolution, succinctly described America's alternative. Here, he said, we intended to make certain that "the law is king."
Vigilant adherence to the rule of law strengthens our democracy and strengthens America. It ensures that those who govern us operate within our constitutional structure, which means that our democratic institutions play their indispensable role in shaping policy and determining the direction of our nation. It means that the people of this nation ultimately determine its course and not executive officials operating in secret without constraint.
The rule of law makes us stronger by ensuring that decisions will be tested, studied, reviewed and examined through the processes of government that are designed to improve policy. And the knowledge that they will be reviewed prevents over-reaching and checks the accretion of power.
A commitment to openness, truthfulness and accountability also helps our country avoid many serious mistakes. Recently, for example, we learned from recently classified declassified documents that the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized the tragic Vietnam war, was actually based on false information. We now know that the decision by Congress to authorize the Iraq War, 38 years later, was also based on false information. America would have been better off knowing the truth and avoiding both of these colossal mistakes in our history. Following the rule of law makes us safer, not more vulnerable.
The President and I agree on one thing. The threat from terrorism is all too real. There is simply no question that we continue to face new challenges in the wake of the attack on September 11th and that we must be ever-vigilant in protecting our citizens from harm.
Where we disagree is that we have to break the law or sacrifice our system of government to protect Americans from terrorism. In fact, doing so makes us weaker and more vulnerable.
Once violated, the rule of law is in danger. Unless stopped, lawlessness grows. The greater the power of the executive grows, the more difficult it becomes for the other branches to perform their constitutional roles. As the executive acts outside its constitutionally prescribed role and is able to control access to information that would expose its actions, it becomes increasingly difficult for the other branches to police it. Once that ability is lost, democracy itself is threatened and we become a government of men and not laws.
The President's men have minced words about America's laws. The Attorney General openly conceded that the "kind of surveillance" we now know they have been conducting requires a court order unless authorized by statute. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act self-evidently does not authorize what the NSA has been doing, and no one inside or outside the Administration claims that it does. Incredibly, the Administration claims instead that the surveillance was implicitly authorized when Congress voted to use force against those who attacked us on September 11th.
This argument just does not hold any water. Without getting into the legal intricacies, it faces a number of embarrassing facts. First, another admission by the Attorney General: he concedes that the Administration knew that the NSA project was prohibited by existing law and that they consulted with some members of Congress about changing the statute. Gonzalez says that they were told this probably would not be possible. So how can they now argue that the Authorization for the Use of Military Force somehow implicitly authorized it all along? Second, when the Authorization was being debated, the Administration did in fact seek to have language inserted in it that would have authorized them to use military force domestically - and the Congress did not agree. Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Jim McGovern, among others, made statements during the Authorization debate clearly restating that that Authorization did not operate domestically.
When President Bush failed to convince Congress to give him all the power he wanted when they passed the AUMF, he secretly assumed that power anyway, as if congressional authorization was a useless bother. But as Justice Frankfurter once wrote: "To find authority so explicitly withheld is not merely to disregard in a particular instance the clear will of Congress. It is to disrespect the whole legislative process and the constitutional division of authority between President and Congress."
This is precisely the "disrespect" for the law that the Supreme Court struck down in the steel seizure case.
It is this same disrespect for America's Constitution which has now brought our republic to the brink of a dangerous breach in the fabric of the Constitution. And the disrespect embodied in these apparent mass violations of the law is part of a larger pattern of seeming indifference to the Constitution that is deeply troubling to millions of Americans in both political parties.
For example, the President has also declared that he has a heretofore unrecognized inherent power to seize and imprison any American citizen that he alone determines to be a threat to our nation, and that, notwithstanding his American citizenship, the person imprisoned has no right to talk with a lawyer-even to argue that the President or his appointees have made a mistake and imprisoned the wrong person.
The President claims that he can imprison American citizens indefinitely for the rest of their lives without an arrest warrant, without notifying them about what charges have been filed against them, and without informing their families that they have been imprisoned.
At the same time, the Executive Branch has claimed a previously unrecognized authority to mistreat prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly constitute torture in a pattern that has now been documented in U.S. facilities located in several countries around the world.
Over 100 of these captives have reportedly died while being tortured by Executive Branch interrogators and many more have been broken and humiliated. In the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, investigators who documented the pattern of torture estimated that more than 90 percent of the victims were innocent of any charges.
This shameful exercise of power overturns a set of principles that our nation has observed since General Washington first enunciated them during our Revolutionary War and has been observed by every president since then - until now. These practices violate the Geneva Conventions and the International Convention Against Torture, not to mention our own laws against torture.
The President has also claimed that he has the authority to kidnap individuals in foreign countries and deliver them for imprisonment and interrogation on our behalf by autocratic regimes in nations that are infamous for the cruelty of their techniques for torture.
Some of our traditional allies have been shocked by these new practices on the part of our nation. The British Ambassador to Uzbekistan - one of those nations with the worst reputations for torture in its prisons - registered a complaint to his home office about the senselessness and cruelty of the new U.S. practice: "This material is useless - we are selling our souls for dross. It is in fact positively harmful."
Can it be true that any president really has such powers under our Constitution? If the answer is "yes" then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited? If the President has the inherent authority to eavesdrop, imprison citizens on his own declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can't he do?
The Dean of Yale Law School, Harold Koh, said after analyzing the Executive Branch's claims of these previously unrecognized powers: "If the President has commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to promote apartheid, to license summary execution."
The fact that our normal safeguards have thus far failed to contain this unprecedented expansion of executive power is deeply troubling. This failure is due in part to the fact that the Executive Branch has followed a determined strategy of obfuscating, delaying, withholding information, appearing to yield but then refusing to do so and dissembling in order to frustrate the efforts of the legislative and judicial branches to restore our constitutional balance.
For example, after appearing to support legislation sponsored by John McCain to stop the continuation of torture, the President declared in the act of signing the bill that he reserved the right not to comply with it.
Similarly, the Executive Branch claimed that it could unilaterally imprison American citizens without giving them access to review by any tribunal. The Supreme Court disagreed, but the President engaged in legal maneuvers designed to prevent the Court from providing meaningful content to the rights of its citizens.
A conservative jurist on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that the Executive Branch's handling of one such case seemed to involve the sudden abandonment of principle "at substantial cost to the government's credibility before the courts."
As a result of its unprecedented claim of new unilateral power, the Executive Branch has now put our constitutional design at grave risk. The stakes for America's representative democracy are far higher than has been generally recognized.
These claims must be rejected and a healthy balance of power restored to our Republic. Otherwise, the fundamental nature of our democracy may well undergo a radical transformation.
For more than two centuries, America's freedoms have been preserved in part by our founders' wise decision to separate the aggregate power of our government into three co-equal branches, each of which serves to check and balance the power of the other two.
On more than a few occasions, the dynamic interaction among all three branches has resulted in collisions and temporary impasses that create what are invariably labeled "constitutional crises." These crises have often been dangerous and uncertain times for our Republic. But in each such case so far, we have found a resolution of the crisis by renewing our common agreement to live under the rule of law.
The principle alternative to democracy throughout history has been the consolidation of virtually all state power in the hands of a single strongman or small group who together exercise that power without the informed consent of the governed.
It was in revolt against just such a regime, after all, that America was founded. When Lincoln declared at the time of our greatest crisis that the ultimate question being decided in the Civil War was "whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure," he was not only saving our union but also was recognizing the fact that democracies are rare in history. And when they fail, as did Athens and the Roman Republic upon whose designs our founders drew heavily, what emerges in their place is another strongman regime.
There have of course been other periods of American history when the Executive Branch claimed new powers that were later seen as excessive and mistaken. Our second president, John Adams, passed the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts and sought to silence and imprison critics and political opponents.
When his successor, Thomas Jefferson, eliminated the abuses he said: "[The essential principles of our Government] form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation... [S]hould we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty and safety."
Our greatest President, Abraham Lincoln, suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. Some of the worst abuses prior to those of the current administration were committed by President Wilson during and after WWI with the notorious Red Scare and Palmer Raids. The internment of Japanese Americans during WWII marked a low point for the respect of individual rights at the hands of the executive. And, during the Vietnam War, the notorious COINTELPRO program was part and parcel of the abuses experienced by Dr. King and thousands of others.
But in each of these cases, when the conflict and turmoil subsided, the country recovered its equilibrium and absorbed the lessons learned in a recurring cycle of excess and regret.
There are reasons for concern this time around that conditions may be changing and that the cycle may not repeat itself. For one thing, we have for decades been witnessing the slow and steady accumulation of presidential power. In a global environment of nuclear weapons and cold war tensions, Congress and the American people accepted ever enlarging spheres of presidential initiative to conduct intelligence and counter intelligence activities and to allocate our military forces on the global stage. When military force has been used as an instrument of foreign policy or in response to humanitarian demands, it has almost always been as the result of presidential initiative and leadership. As Justice Frankfurter wrote in the Steel Seizure Case, "The accretion of dangerous power does not come in a day. It does come, however slowly, from the generative force of unchecked disregard of the restrictions that fence in even the most disinterested assertion of authority."
A second reason to believe we may be experiencing something new is that we are told by the Administration that the war footing upon which he has tried to place the country is going to "last for the rest of our lives." So we are told that the conditions of national threat that have been used by other Presidents to justify arrogations of power will persist in near perpetuity.
Third, we need to be aware of the advances in eavesdropping and surveillance technologies with their capacity to sweep up and analyze enormous quantities of information and to mine it for intelligence. This adds significant vulnerability to the privacy and freedom of enormous numbers of innocent people at the same time as the potential power of those technologies. These techologies have the potential for shifting the balance of power between the apparatus of the state and the freedom of the individual in ways both subtle and profound.
Don't misunderstand me: the threat of additional terror strikes is all too real and their concerted efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction does create a real imperative to exercise the powers of the Executive Branch with swiftness and agility. Moreover, there is in fact an inherent power that is conferred by the Constitution to the President to take unilateral action to protect the nation from a sudden and immediate threat, but it is simply not possible to precisely define in legalistic terms exactly when that power is appropriate and when it is not.
But the existence of that inherent power cannot be used to justify a gross and excessive power grab lasting for years that produces a serious imbalance in the relationship between the executive and the other two branches of government.
There is a final reason to worry that we may be experiencing something more than just another cycle of overreach and regret. This Administration has come to power in the thrall of a legal theory that aims to convince us that this excessive concentration of presidential authority is exactly what our Constitution intended.
This legal theory, which its proponents call the theory of the unitary executive but which is more accurately described as the unilateral executive, threatens to expand the president's powers until the contours of the constitution that the Framers actually gave us become obliterated beyond all recognition. Under this theory, the President's authority when acting as Commander-in-Chief or when making foreign policy cannot be reviewed by the judiciary or checked by Congress. President Bush has pushed the implications of this idea to its maximum by continually stressing his role as Commander-in-Chief, invoking it has frequently as he can, conflating it with his other roles, domestic and foreign. When added to the idea that we have entered a perpetual state of war, the implications of this theory stretch quite literally as far into the future as we can imagine.
This effort to rework America's carefully balanced constitutional design into a lopsided structure dominated by an all powerful Executive Branch with a subservient Congress and judiciary is-ironically-accompanied by an effort by the same administration to rework America's foreign policy from one that is based primarily on U.S. moral authority into one that is based on a misguided and self-defeating effort to establish dominance in the world.
The common denominator seems to be based on an instinct to intimidate and control.
This same pattern has characterized the effort to silence dissenting views within the Executive Branch, to censor information that may be inconsistent with its stated ideological goals, and to demand conformity from all Executive Branch employees.
For example, CIA analysts who strongly disagreed with the White House assertion that Osama bin Laden was linked to Saddam Hussein found themselves under pressure at work and became fearful of losing promotions and salary increases.
Ironically, that is exactly what happened to FBI officials in the 1960s who disagreed with J. Edgar Hoover's view that Dr. King was closely connected to Communists. The head of the FBI's domestic intelligence division said that his effort to tell the truth about King's innocence of the charge resulted in he and his colleagues becoming isolated and pressured. "It was evident that we had to change our ways or we would all be out on the street.... The men and I discussed how to get out of trouble. To be in trouble with Mr. Hoover was a serious matter. These men were trying to buy homes, mortgages on homes, children in school. They lived in fear of getting transferred, losing money on their homes, as they usually did. ... so they wanted another memorandum written to get us out of the trouble that we were in."
The Constitution's framers understood this dilemma as well, as Alexander Hamilton put it, "a power over a man's support is a power over his will." (Federalist No. 73)
Soon, there was no more difference of opinion within the FBI. The false accusation became the unanimous view. In exactly the same way, George Tenet's CIA eventually joined in endorsing a manifestly false view that there was a linkage between al Qaeda and the government of Iraq.
In the words of George Orwell: "We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield."
Whenever power is unchecked and unaccountable it almost inevitably leads to mistakes and abuses. In the absence of rigorous accountability, incompetence flourishes. Dishonesty is encouraged and rewarded.
Last week, for example, Vice President Cheney attempted to defend the Administration's eavesdropping on American citizens by saying that if it had conducted this program prior to 9/11, they would have found out the names of some of the hijackers.
Tragically, he apparently still doesn't know that the Administration did in fact have the names of at least 2 of the hijackers well before 9/11 and had available to them information that could have easily led to the identification of most of the other hijackers. And yet, because of incompetence in the handling of this information, it was never used to protect the American people.
It is often the case that an Executive Branch beguiled by the pursuit of unchecked power responds to its own mistakes by reflexively proposing that it be given still more power. Often, the request itself it used to mask accountability for mistakes in the use of power it already has.
Moreover, if the pattern of practice begun by this Administration is not challenged, it may well become a permanent part of the American system. Many conservatives have pointed out that granting unchecked power to this President means that the next President will have unchecked power as well. And the next President may be someone whose values and belief you do not trust. And this is why Republicans as well as Democrats should be concerned with what this President has done. If this President's attempt to dramatically expand executive power goes unquestioned, our constitutional design of checks and balances will be lost. And the next President or some future President will be able, in the name of national security, to restrict our liberties in a way the framers never would have thought possible.
The same instinct to expand its power and to establish dominance characterizes the relationship between this Administration and the courts and the Congress.
In a properly functioning system, the Judicial Branch would serve as the constitutional umpire to ensure that the branches of government observed their proper spheres of authority, observed civil liberties and adhered to the rule of law. Unfortunately, the unilateral executive has tried hard to thwart the ability of the judiciary to call balls and strikes by keeping controversies out of its hands - notably those challenging its ability to detain individuals without legal process -- by appointing judges who will be deferential to its exercise of power and by its support of assaults on the independence of the third branch.
The President's decision to ignore FISA was a direct assault on the power of the judges who sit on that court. Congress established the FISA court precisely to be a check on executive power to wiretap. Yet, to ensure that the court could not function as a check on executive power, the President simply did not take matters to it and did not let the court know that it was being bypassed.
The President's judicial appointments are clearly designed to ensure that the courts will not serve as an effective check on executive power. As we have all learned, Judge Alito is a longtime supporter of a powerful executive - a supporter of the so-called unitary executive, which is more properly called the unilateral executive. Whether you support his confirmation or not - and I do not - we must all agree that he will not vote as an effective check on the expansion of executive power. Likewise, Chief Justice Roberts has made plain his deference to the expansion of executive power through his support of judicial deference to executive agency rulemaking.
And the Administration has supported the assault on judicial independence that has been conducted largely in Congress. That assault includes a threat by the Republican majority in the Senate to permanently change the rules to eliminate the right of the minority to engage in extended debate of the President's judicial nominees. The assault has extended to legislative efforts to curtail the jurisdiction of courts in matters ranging from habeas corpus to the pledge of allegiance. In short, the Administration has demonstrated its contempt for the judicial role and sought to evade judicial review of its actions at every turn.
But the most serious damage has been done to the legislative branch. The sharp decline of congressional power and autonomy in recent years has been almost as shocking as the efforts by the Executive Branch to attain a massive expansion of its power.
I was elected to Congress in 1976 and served eight years in the house, 8 years in the Senate and presided over the Senate for 8 years as Vice President. As a young man, I saw the Congress first hand as the son of a Senator. My father was elected to Congress in 1938, 10 years before I was born, and left the Senate in 1971.
The Congress we have today is unrecognizable compared to the one in which my father served. There are many distinguished Senators and Congressmen serving today. I am honored that some of them are here in this hall. But the legislative branch of government under its current leadership now operates as if it is entirely subservient to the Executive Branch.
Moreover, too many Members of the House and Senate now feel compelled to spend a majority of their time not in thoughtful debate of the issues, but raising money to purchase 30 second TV commercials.
There have now been two or three generations of congressmen who don't really know what an oversight hearing is. In the 70's and 80's, the oversight hearings in which my colleagues and I participated held the feet of the Executive Branch to the fire - no matter which party was in power. Yet oversight is almost unknown in the Congress today.
The role of authorization committees has declined into insignificance. The 13 annual appropriation bills are hardly ever actually passed anymore. Everything is lumped into a single giant measure that is not even available for Members of Congress to read before they vote on it.
Members of the minority party are now routinely excluded from conference committees, and amendments are routinely not allowed during floor consideration of legislation.
In the United States Senate, which used to pride itself on being the "greatest deliberative body in the world," meaningful debate is now a rarity. Even on the eve of the fateful vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq, Senator Robert Byrd famously asked: "Why is this chamber empty?"
In the House of Representatives, the number who face a genuinely competitive election contest every two years is typically less than a dozen out of 435.
And too many incumbents have come to believe that the key to continued access to the money for re-election is to stay on the good side of those who have the money to give; and, in the case of the majority party, the whole process is largely controlled by the incumbent president and his political organization.
So the willingness of Congress to challenge the Administration is further limited when the same party controls both Congress and the Executive Branch.
The Executive Branch, time and again, has co-opted Congress' role, and often Congress has been a willing accomplice in the surrender of its own power.
Look for example at the Congressional role in "overseeing" this massive four year eavesdropping campaign that on its face seemed so clearly to violate the Bill of Rights. The President says he informed Congress, but what he really means is that he talked with the chairman and ranking member of the House and Senate intelligence committees and the top leaders of the House and Senate. This small group, in turn, claimed that they were not given the full facts, though at least one of the intelligence committee leaders handwrote a letter of concern to VP Cheney and placed a copy in his own safe.
Though I sympathize with the awkward position in which these men and women were placed, I cannot disagree with the Liberty Coalition when it says that Democrats as well as Republicans in the Congress must share the blame for not taking action to protest and seek to prevent what they consider a grossly unconstitutional program.
Moreover, in the Congress as a whole-both House and Senate-the enhanced role of money in the re-election process, coupled with the sharply diminished role for reasoned deliberation and debate, has produced an atmosphere conducive to pervasive institutionalized corruption.
The Abramoff scandal is but the tip of a giant iceberg that threatens the integrity of the entire legislative branch of government.
It is the pitiful state of our legislative branch which primarily explains the failure of our vaunted checks and balances to prevent the dangerous overreach by our Executive Branch which now threatens a radical transformation of the American system.
I call upon Democratic and Republican members of Congress today to uphold your oath of office and defend the Constitution. Stop going along to get along. Start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of government you're supposed to be.
But there is yet another Constitutional player whose pulse must be taken and whose role must be examined in order to understand the dangerous imbalance that has emerged with the efforts by the Executive Branch to dominate our constitutional system.
We the people are-collectively-still the key to the survival of America's democracy. We-as Lincoln put it, "[e]ven we here"-must examine our own role as citizens in allowing and not preventing the shocking decay and degradation of our democracy.
Thomas Jefferson said: "An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will."
The revolutionary departure on which the idea of America was based was the audacious belief that people can govern themselves and responsibly exercise the ultimate authority in self-government. This insight proceeded inevitably from the bedrock principle articulated by the Enlightenment philosopher John Locke: "All just power is derived from the consent of the governed."
The intricate and carefully balanced constitutional system that is now in such danger was created with the full and widespread participation of the population as a whole. The Federalist Papers were, back in the day, widely-read newspaper essays, and they represented only one of twenty-four series of essays that crowded the vibrant marketplace of ideas in which farmers and shopkeepers recapitulated the debates that played out so fruitfully in Philadelphia.
Indeed, when the Convention had done its best, it was the people - in their various States - that refused to confirm the result until, at their insistence, the Bill of Rights was made integral to the document sent forward for ratification.
And it is "We the people" who must now find once again the ability we once had to play an integral role in saving our Constitution.
And here there is cause for both concern and great hope. The age of printed pamphlets and political essays has long since been replaced by television - a distracting and absorbing medium which sees determined to entertain and sell more than it informs and educates.
Lincoln's memorable call during the Civil War is applicable in a new way to our dilemma today: "We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."
Forty years have passed since the majority of Americans adopted television as their principal source of information. Its dominance has become so extensive that virtually all significant political communication now takes place within the confines of flickering 30-second television advertisements.
And the political economy supported by these short but expensive television ads is as different from the vibrant politics of America's first century as those politics were different from the feudalism which thrived on the ignorance of the masses of people in the Dark Ages.
The constricted role of ideas in the American political system today has encouraged efforts by the Executive Branch to control the flow of information as a means of controlling the outcome of important decisions that still lie in the hands of the people.
The Administration vigorously asserts its power to maintain the secrecy of its operations. After all, the other branches can't check an abuse of power if they don't know it is happening.
For example, when the Administration was attempting to persuade Congress to enact the Medicare prescription drug benefit, many in the House and Senate raised concerns about the cost and design of the program. But, rather than engaging in open debate on the basis of factual data, the Administration withheld facts and prevented the Congress from hearing testimony that it sought from the principal administration expert who had compiled information showing in advance of the vote that indeed the true cost estimates were far higher than the numbers given to Congress by the President.
Deprived of that information, and believing the false numbers given to it instead, the Congress approved the program. Tragically, the entire initiative is now collapsing- all over the country- with the Administration making an appeal just this weekend to major insurance companies to volunteer to bail it out.
To take another example, scientific warnings about the catastrophic consequences of unchecked global warming were censored by a political appointee in the White House who had no scientific training. And today one of the leading scientific experts on global warming in NASA has been ordered not to talk to members of the press and to keep a careful log of everyone he meets with so that the Executive Branch can monitor and control his discussions of global warming.
One of the other ways the Administration has tried to control the flow of information is by consistently resorting to the language and politics of fear in order to short-circuit the debate and drive its agenda forward without regard to the evidence or the public interest. As President Eisenhower said, "Any who act as if freedom's defenses are to be found in suppression and suspicion and fear confess a doctrine that is alien to America."
Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics of discourse and opens the door to the politics of destruction. Justice Brandeis once wrote: "Men feared witches and burnt women."
The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk.
Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights.
Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously?
It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same.
We have a duty as Americans to defend our citizens' right not only to life but also to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is therefore vital in our current circumstances that immediate steps be taken to safeguard our Constitution against the present danger posed by the intrusive overreaching on the part of the Executive Branch and the President's apparent belief that he need not live under the rule of law.
I endorse the words of Bob Barr, when he said, "The President has dared the American people to do something about it. For the sake of the Constitution, I hope they will."
A special counsel should immediately be appointed by the Attorney General to remedy the obvious conflict of interest that prevents him from investigating what many believe are serious violations of law by the President. We have had a fresh demonstration of how an independent investigation by a special counsel with integrity can rebuild confidence in our system of justice. Patrick Fitzgerald has, by all accounts, shown neither fear nor favor in pursuing allegations that the Executive Branch has violated other laws.
Republican as well as Democratic members of Congress should support the bipartisan call of the Liberty Coalition for the appointment of a special counsel to pursue the criminal issues raised by warrantless wiretapping of Americans by the President.
Second, new whistleblower protections should immediately be established for members of the Executive Branch who report evidence of wrongdoing -- especially where it involves the abuse of Executive Branch authority in the sensitive areas of national security.
Third, both Houses of Congress should hold comprehensive-and not just superficial-hearings into these serious allegations of criminal behavior on the part of the President. And, they should follow the evidence wherever it leads.
Fourth, the extensive new powers requested by the Executive Branch in its proposal to extend and enlarge the Patriot Act should, under no circumstances be granted, unless and until there are adequate and enforceable safeguards to protect the Constitution and the rights of the American people against the kinds of abuses that have so recently been revealed.
Fifth, any telecommunications company that has provided the government with access to private information concerning the communications of Americans without a proper warrant should immediately cease and desist their complicity in this apparently illegal invasion of the privacy of American citizens.
Freedom of communication is an essential prerequisite for the restoration of the health of our democracy.
It is particularly important that the freedom of the Internet be protected against either the encroachment of government or the efforts at control by large media conglomerates. The future of our democracy depends on it.
I mentioned that along with cause for concern, there is reason for hope. As I stand here today, I am filled with optimism that America is on the eve of a golden age in which the vitality of our democracy will be re-established and will flourish more vibrantly than ever. Indeed I can feel it in this hall.
As Dr. King once said, "Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us."
Saturday, January 14, 2006
It sounds as if Al Gore is about to deliver what could be not just one of the more significant speeches of his political career but an essential challenge to the embattled presidency of George W. Bush. In a major address slated for delivery Monday in Washington, the former Vice President is expected to argue that the Bush administration has created a "Constitutional crisis" by acting without the authorization of the Congress and the courts to spy on Americans and otherwise abuse basic libertiesÂ expect Gore to make reference to Richard Nixon, whose abuses of executive authority led to calls for his impeachment -- a fate the 37th president avoided by resigning in 1974.
Now, if Bill Clinton would stop running around trying to forge a legacy about eight years too late and appear with Gore to denounce President Dipshit, maybe there could be some sort of shift as far as Democrats with backbone. No, he won't though because that could be controversial and any whiff of actual moral conviction might harm Hillary's chances in '08.
Before the war started, I had the delusion that Hillary Clinton might be a great force to be reckoned with in the future of the Democratic party. Her silence on Bush's power grabs have left a horrible stain on her credibility. Who knows, she might one day turn into a viable candidate but her shameful cowardice and silence has lost my vote for her no matter what she may do in the future.
As a matter of fact, seeing what fools the Democrats have been these last couple of years I don't believe I will ever vote Democrat again, even if a vote for a third party is a wasted vote, I will never feel dirty like I did when I held my nose and voted for Kerry.
Progressives, liberals or whatever the hell you want to call us need new leadership and we will never get it from these Republican-lite morons in the Democratic party.
Been quiet the last few days. The internet is down at work so I haven't been able to spend half the time I normally do online. Sorry. I feel like I've lost one of my eyes not being able to zip online to check out news or comments. I've been going to bed sort of early this week, so I haven't been surfing much at home either.
How 'bout all the banging of war drums regarding Iran. Deja fucking vu.
So, open thread. Talk about whatever strikes your fancy.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
I Was Bored To Tears and No One Felt Sorry For Me
While zipping around the Blogosphere today I have run across much discussion about Alito's wife crying during his questioning. I didn't see it live but I've caught the endless replays on the tube.
Many lefties seem to think they were staged Rovian tears so as to cause sympathy for her husband.
My first reaction when I saw the video was to feel incredibly sorry for her. I mean it must be stressful to be there and maybe she just cracked. The problem with this is that I am a sucker for tears. I can't stand to see anybody cry. Even if it's someone I'm righteously pissed at and have been yelling at, tears just make me naturally want to hug somebdy.
Now, knowing what kind of stakes we're playing for, I don't really trust myself on this one. I can see manipulative fascist bastards briefing her to evoke sypathy, oh no I wouldn't put that past them at all.
So I thought I would ask the greatest collection of brilliant and shrewd minds on the Internet what they thought.
Well, they were busy so I'll just ask the folks here at Green September.
Whadya think, real or staged tears?
Elizabet Holtzman lays out the case against King George.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Where exactly is this school?....no really
Someone sent me this link and I just thought I would share.
I'm thinking this sounds like the best school ever!
Monday, January 09, 2006
I love the ACLU
Take that you fascist motherfuckers.
According to the ACLU, Boynton Beach High School teacher Cynthia Alexandre ordered Frazier to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance during her fourth period math class on December 8. When Frazier refused, citing the fact that he had not stood for the Pledge since sixth grade and that he wasn't going to change his practice, Alexandre responded by saying: "Oh you wanna bet? See your desk? Now look at mine. Big desk, little desk. You obviously don't know your place in this classroom." Frazier said the teacher cursed at him and accused him of being unpatriotic before ordering him to leave the classroom. Alexandre cited a school district policy requiring all students to stand during the Pledge, although students with written permission from their parents are excused from actually reciting the oath.
"I believe that the real meaning of the flag - freedom, liberty and equality - has been tarnished by the recent policies of our government," said Frazier. "Patriotism is more than going along with everybody else and just saluting a flag. It's about things like supporting our troops during the holidays and helping hurricane victims."
Cameron Frazier is a hero. Tell others about him. I was not this brave or well-informed when I was his age, and I am in awe of him.
Sunday, January 08, 2006
IN OUR TIME. IN THIS COUNTRY. FOR A PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR TO SAY THIS:
This part of the exchange during the debate with Doug Cassel, reveals the logic of Yoo’s theories, adopted by the Administration as bedrock principles, in the real world.
Cassel: If the President deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?
Yoo: No treaty.
Cassel: Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.
Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.
how...... what the.............
What the hell do you do with people who say things like this in a calm and matter-of-fact manner?
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Leonard Pitts Jr. , writing in the Detroit Free Press sums up all the sound and fury with one neat paragraph :
Want to guess how long it takes to get a warrant to eavesdrop? It can be done in hours. Even minutes. In extraordinary circumstances, investigators can listen in for up to 72 hours "without" a warrant. You know how many warrant requests were submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Court last year? According to the Times, 1,754. Know how many were rejected? None.
Tell me again, oh ye right wingers, how King George the Stupid is bypassing the law to "protect" us all.
The Roar of a Wave That Could Drown the Whole World
"If the president has commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to promote apartheid, to license summary execution."
Harold Hongju Koh, dean of the Yale Law School
For those of you wanting to get into the Freeway blogging, be sure to put the Green September logo somewhere on the sign. Just to let people know where it came from.
Also if you do it and you have a digital cameras, send me a picture and I will post one here and send one to Freeway Blogger.
Enough is Enough
Cindy Sheehan calls us all out:
She's right. I have been too damn lazy.
I had a long and serious conversation with my wife last week. She is finally as alarmed as I have been for quite a while now. She realizes that Bush's admission and bragging about his law breaking are an ominous sign. Don't get me wrong friends, my wife is very well informed and as politically smart as anyone I know, but it seems until just recently this hasn't been a real and tangible threat. I fault her for this not one bit. Believe me, she spends her days keeping profoundly disabled, medically fragile children from dying. Some days she doesn't succeed. So if this has not been a life and death issue for her until this time, she deserves some slack.
We talked about this situation with Bush and the NSA and she agrees with me that this is the last straw. I can longer sit an say "Well, maybe I'm being paranoid" or"Surely someone in higher authority will step forward now".
Those days are done, my friends. While we wait to see what sort of response, if any, are to be given by Bush's political opposition, I plan on getting involved in a little guerilla warfare behind enemy lines. That is a figure of speech. I haven't gone off the deep end and decided on open warfare but I plan to work within the boundaries of the law and perhaps engage in civil disobedience. I have been impressed with some of the signs I have seen freeway bloggers make. You know, those large signs hung on overview's of interstate roads. I plan on working on that and if I do I will have pics to post here. Whatever other things that pop into my head, I will let you know and we will work to get noticed here on the web. It's not much but I want to do all that I can and still remain a relatively free man for as long as I can. Having support here from my wife has given me a needed boost. It came a t a time when I was feeling very down and helpless and It's kind of turned me around.
Any ideas and such that anyone has please feel free to post them here or send them to me via e-mail.
This tyrant will not stand. I swear this, my friends.
BTW Check out the Freeway Blogger link in the link section.
Friday, January 06, 2006
Here Rests the Fate of a Nation
Thank you very much to The Left Coaster for assembling all of the information I've been bouncing around the web looking for in one place.
Once again that link: http://www.theleftcoaster.com/archives/006455.php#1
It seems clear that George W. Bush has broken the law, has admitted to doing so, and has said that he will continue to break the law as long as he believes it is in America's best interest.
The President of the United States is not above the law.
We will wait and see if the Congress and the Senate will do their duty and challenge this threat to the Republic.
If they will not, we the people will take matters into our own hands, and bring these criminals to justice.
I'm very tired right now so I'm going to try and take a short nap, but I wanted to post this link because it looks like a treasure trove of Bush/NSA stuff. Have fun. I will dive into it later.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Ariel Sharon is dying and I don't know how to feel about it
On the one hand I wish the butchering Bulldozer a painful, suffering demise.
On the other it actually seemed like he might be trying to work toward some kind of compromise regarding Palestinian statehood. Yeah, yeah. I know there's a bridge in San Francisco you want to sell me.
Then again he did oversee the building of that damned wall.
But then he took no shit while removing the settlers from Gaza.
Head....hurting.......overcome with various shades of grey.....
Perhaps I can split the difference. I can hope that Sharon will pull through, not be able to continue as Prime Minister, but still be healthy enough to chase down and eat Pat Robertson.
Yes, let's all pray for that.
Ten Thousand Miles In the Mouth Of A Graveyard
The 2005 installment of Eliot Weinberger's brilliant series, What I Heard About Iraq.
Read 'em and weep.
Monday, January 02, 2006
Ahhh yes. Good 'ol boys. Very brave, gentlemen. Why not put your shooting skills to good use in Iraq?
Because Iraqis shoot back, I suppose.
Rome Is Burning
The Rude Pundit has taken a trip to the City Formerly Known As New Orleans.
Where the fuck is all the money for cleanup going?
Why the fuck do large sections of the city look like this four months later?
Sunday, January 01, 2006
I can't believe there isn't more media outrage about this:
New Documents Show FBI Targeting Environmental and Animal Rights Groups Activities as ‘Domestic Terrorism’
NEW YORK -- According to new documents released today by the American Civil Liberties Union, the FBI is using counterterrorism resources to monitor and infiltrate domestic political organizations that criticize business interests and government policies, despite a lack of evidence that the groups are engaging in or supporting violent action.
The ACLU said that the documents released today on Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) show the FBI expanding the definition of “domestic terrorism” to include citizens and groups that participate in lawful protests or civil disobedience.
“The FBI should use its resources to investigate credible threats to national security instead of spending time tracking Americans who criticize government policy, or monitoring groups that have not broken the law,” said Ann Beeson, Associate Legal Director of the ACLU. “Labeling law abiding groups and their members ‘domestic terrorists’ is not only irresponsible, it has a chilling effect on the vibrant tradition of political dissent in this country.”
The documents were obtained by the ACLU after the organization filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to discover whether the FBI’s partnerships with local law enforcement in Joint Terrorism Task Forces has resulted in increased surveillance of political and religious activity.
Among the documents released today were more than 100 pages of FBI files on PETA. Multiple documents indicate ongoing surveillance of PETA-related meetings and activities, including a “Vegan Community Project” event at the University of Indiana during which the group distributed vegetarian starter kits to students and faculty, an animal rights conference in Washington, DC that was open to the public, and a planned protest of Cindy Crawford’s decision to become a llama fur spokesperson.
The ACLU said that FBI surveillance of mainstream organizations involved in public education campaigns has allowed the bureau to maintain files with names and other information on law-abiding Americans who support or participate in events organized by the groups. One file released by the FBI in response to a request for ADC’s records included a contact list for students and peace activists who participated in a 2002 conference at Stanford University, which focused on ending U.S. sanctions against Iraq.
“The FBI should be investigating real terrorists, not monitoring controversial ideas,” said Ben Wizner, an ACLU staff attorney. “Americans shouldn’t have to fear that by protesting the treatment of animals or participating in non-violent civil disobedience, they will be branded as 'eco-terrorists' in FBI records.”
The ACLU said that some of the documents suggest infiltration by undercover “sources” at animal rights meetings and conferences. One highly redacted “Domestic Terrorism Operations Unit” document suggests that the FBI is using PETA’s interns for surveillance, while others describe attempts to locate and interview “several former disgruntled PETA employees.” Similarly, one cryptic e-mail kept in a Greenpeace file describes a source who “offers a unique opportunity to gain intelligence on activists who show a clear predisposition to violate the law.”
At times, the documents show aggressive attempts by the FBI to link PETA, Greenpeace and other mainstream organizations to activists associated with the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) or Earth Liberation Front (ELF), said the ACLU. PETA, in particular, is repeatedly and falsely singled out as a “front” for militant organizations although in at least one document released today the FBI appears to acknowledge that it has no evidence to back up such assertions.
“These documents show the erosion of freedom of association and speech that Americans have taken for granted and which set us apart from oppressive countries,” said Jeff Kerr, General Counsel for PETA. “McCarthyist tactics used against PETA and other groups that speak out against cruelty to animals and exploitive corporate and government practices are un-American, unconstitutional and against the interests of a healthy democracy.”
The documents released by the ACLU also include FBI observances on supposed Communist leanings of the Catholic Workers Group (CWG). In an e-mail to the counterterrorism unit, an unidentified official wrote, “the Catholic Workers advocated peace with a Christian and semi-communistic ideology.” In another document, an agent writes, “Based on the author’s interpretation of comments made by various CWG protestors, CWG also advocates a communist distribution of resources.”
ACLU affiliates in 20 states have filed similar requests on behalf of more than 150 groups and individuals. Earlier this month, the ACLU of Colorado revealed that the FBI had tracked the names, license plate numbers and vehicle registration information of participants at a peaceful protest of the North American Wholesale Lumber Association in Colorado Springs in June 2002.
Link to original story: http://www.aclu.org/safefree/spying/23124prs20051220.html
Link to view the actual FBI documents:http://www.aclu.org/spyfiles/