Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A New Declaration of Independence

"when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security."

--U.S. Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

Couldn't have said it better myself. What were you doing at age 32? Thomas Jefferson was writing the Declaration of Independence. (Co-authors John Adams was 41 and Ben Franklin was 70). What was W doing at age 32? Drinking? Doing illegal drugs? I have no idea. I do know W has said that when he was young and irresponsible he was young and irresponsible. He is also old and irresponsible.

What we are seeing is a serious attack on constitutional democracy. Maybe even the end of it. The defense of approving the NSA to spy on Americans without a court warrant has been laughably pathetic. Condi Rice tells Tim Russert she's not a lawyer but then gives a grade school legal argument that the President has the authority to spy domestically without court approval under the Constitution and the Congressional authorization to use force in Afghanistan. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the President had the implicit right to wiretap without a warrant and didn't explicitly ask for the right because they wouldn't have been able to get it. Huh? We didn't ask because we knew you'ld say no? More childish arguments.

The president has two ways to wiretap people - Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act passed in 1968 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), passed in 1978. That's it. It's not complicated. What the president ordered was a federal crime. The real reasons why it was done might be that they couldn't get a FISA warrant because the information gathered to get the warrant was gathered in an illegal manner such as torture. It also could be that the methods NSA is using to spy are far beyond what is publicly known or even surmised and such methods are so classified and sophisticated that there existence should not risk being disclosed in any manner even through a secret FISA warrant. It's certainly not clear but the real reason can't be that they had to move fast. FISA allows the president to conduct emergency wiretaps if they notify the secret FISA court within 72 hours to get approval. And since the court has approved 19,000 out of 19,005 requests in the last 26 years, it seems as if getting the warrant wasn't the issue. Maybe we'll eventually find out. I doubt it.

What I don't doubt is that after creating the fear the administration is moving to phase 2 - expand central government powers including a massive secret police. After NBC News reported last week about the Pentagon secretly spying on domestic "threats" such as a Quaker peace group in Florida, the New York Times reports today that the FBI has conducted intelligence gathering operations involving groups such as PETA, Greenpeace and the Catholics Workers group. All for your protection and all in the name of national security.

Hard to argue with "it's for national security." If you think about it everything has to do with national security. Planes, buses, libraries, the internet, email, phones, banks, colleges, political groups. Can you hear that? It's the sound of the last gasps of a constitutional democracy. We don't have to worry about some cave-dwellers destroying the idea of America. W and his crew are doing that all by themselves.

We need a new Declaration of Independence. Independence from the extremism Republicans have injected into the body politic. Wish I could say the injection was more like a vaccine rather than the poison it seems to be.


Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

A Quacker peace group? Imagine spying on ducks!

But we're starting to hear mutterings of impeachment and if you listen carefully you'll hear me screaming

10:27 AM  
Blogger LeverWealth said...

And... we see today China got a little closer. It is now only three places behind the USA in terms of economic size.

1:07 PM  

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