I can not fathom what lies ahead for our country through the remainder of Bush’s term. We continue down a slippery slope of police-state tactics and the continuous infringement and violation of our constitutional freedoms and rights, all by a president who repeatedly declares himself above the laws of our nation including that most sacred document: the United States Constitution. It is more than disheartening that our government now embraces evil: torture; maintaining secret jails around the globe where they can surreptitiously hold and brutalize those called enemies of the state; using deception, blatant lies, and propaganda against the American public, even when the intent of such activities is to incite war against another sovereign state; overspending in the name of security while providing no additional safety for the homeland or its peoples; and encouraging a spirit of corruption and no accountability throughout government. This place is alien to me now, certainly not the once great America I grew up in and learned to love and cherish.
I keep telling myself it can not possibly get worse, that we have scraped the bottom of the barrel and are now sadly lying underneath it. Each time that thought crosses my mind, I am horribly disappointed to find yet another attempt by those in charge to take us even lower than we have already fallen.
You know about the domestic spying scandal: our president in his idiotic way has declared the law irrelevant when it comes to monitoring secretly the activities of American citizens, including listening to every phone call and reading every e-mail, not to mention tracking all online activity. Thankfully, it appears some action is being taken to challenge this unlawful practice by the dictator-to-be, King George.
Not only has the EFF filed a lawsuit against AT&T alleging it supported the government in gaining illegal wholesale access to its networks and all its traffic, a lawsuit AT&T is challenging by attempting to suppress the documents showing specifically how they gave the NSA access to those networks, but now Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, throws down the gauntlet on the program by threatening to cut the NSA’s funding if it does not provide Congress with the details and information it repeatedly has requested so it might understand better this en masse eavesdropping. That happens to be what congressional oversight is about: monitoring the activities of the president and the government agencies under that position’s purview.
“Is the president doing anything wrong?” Specter asked. “We don’t know, because we don’t know what the program is.”
There’s no doubt that the program is going on in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, a 1978 law that requires a secret court to approve investigative wiretapping before it occurs, Specter said. What remains murky, he added, is whether the president’s constitutional powers as commander-in-chief would justify the program’s existence without a court order.
Expressing he does not want this issue to fade into the background of the American consciousness, Specter went on to say, “Here you have a lot of taps going on in America, in violation of a statute. They may be necessary, they may be vital, but there needs to be a determination of that…to ensure they’re not a violation of privacy without probable cause.”
Already concerned because Dubya and his cronies once again got caught with their britches down, the DOJ interfered with the lawsuit late last week hoping to have it altogether dismissed. For an official whose sole purpose is to act as the highest legal advocate for and protector of Americans, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales betrayed his true job so he might instead act wholly as a puppet and crony for the Bush administration, turning his back on the role of guardian of rights and diving in head first to a new position as chief violator of the law and trouncer of freedoms. In this case, he intends to interfere in the lawsuit so the illegal spying on American citizens without judicial oversight can continue sans interruption. Because the government is not named as a respondent in the lawsuit, and because there is only one sure way for the Executive Branch to demonstrate despot-like control over the other branches, the DOJ filing indicates they will invoke the “State Secrets Privilege” in order to stop all legal proceedings.
Glenn Greenwald clarifies precisely what that privilege is and how often Bush has used it.
In other words, the doctrine is notable because the Executive Branch can decree that the documents should not be disclosed because disclosure will harm national security, and that decree is, in practice, often blindly accepted without anyone reviewing its truthfulness or propriety. For that exact reason, and quite unsurprisingly, the Bush administration loves this doctrine, as it is so consistent with its monarchical view of presidential infallibility, and the administration has become the most aggressive and enthusiastic user of this doctrine as a means of preventing disclosure of government documents…
Unsatisfied with the mere power to unilaterally block courts from obtaining relevant documents while he is in office, President Bush, while the rubble from the World Trade Center was still sitting in lower Manhattan and everyone was distracted by that, had the presence of mind to extend this power to assert the State Secrets Privilege to both his father and to himself for life and even thereafter…
As the Chicago Tribune detailed last year, the administration has also used this doctrine repeatedly to obstruct any judicial proceedings designed to investigate its torture and rendition policies…
Sadly, overzealous use of this Executive privilege continues unabated and unchallenged, and its application in the domestic spying lawsuit may well mean the government will once again be able to hide forever its unconstitutional and illegal activities in this matter. If the judiciary fails to challenge it and does not allow the lawsuit to move forward with the evidence on hand, we all can assume we are targets of this criminal activity, our private and innocent communications are being monitored, the government has instituted a policy of “guilty until proven innocent” so it might suspend constitutional freedoms and legal rights, and, most critically, a very bad precedent has been set for all presidents to come.
But this is not the only new assault on America perpetrated by the Bush régime.
Our nation historically supported freedom of the press, and this extended to journalists and protection from forceful identification of their sources. This ensured both are not treated as criminal lest they cause nationwide panic or otherwise deliberately endanger the public in some way. Freedom of the press ensures the American public can rely on news from sources not influenced, controlled, or otherwise threatened by the government. Any media not enjoying such protections would be less likely to report factual or alleged information contrary to or critical of the ruling class, thereby placing the country’s denizens in jeopardy of only receiving state-approved propaganda, a very Soviet-like existence. Consider the result of a cowardly press — more cowardly than they have become thus far — resulting from journalists threatened with KGB-style tactics regarding everything they say. As Peter Daou says, “This is the power of the media to choose the news, to decide when and how to shield Bush from negative publicity. Sins of omission can be just as bad as sins of commission.”
While I have expressed concern about the dictatorial tendencies of our president, including his utter and complete disregard for all law and the U.S. Constitution, only now does the general media begin reporting Bush as a self-proclaimed dictator, a man holding himself above the law with full support of the military, a growing number of the courts, a press increasingly subdued by state force, and a disturbingly large number of covertly theocracy-supporting individuals and organizations alarmingly supportive of any Christian willing to declare open and relentless war on all disbelievers in Jesus. Our nation is quickly becoming everything it once stood against.