Mar 10, 2007

Rhetoric Aside, The Conservatives Created a Monster of a Government Not Limited by Law or Oversight

"The United States is entirely a creature of the Constitution. Its power and authority have no other source." Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black (1957)

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. Fourth Amendment, US Constitution [still on paper, but not always in effect]

It's interesting that the conservative intellectuals talk about the "Constitution in exile," and the liberal courts that have been ..broad constructionist, while most of the conservatives have already shredded the constitution in favor of a political expedience that has given them the benefits of power via the Executive branch. When this country was established, it was decided that it would not be a country of and by god, aristocratic privilege, or ascribed status, but a country of laws. Of course there are laws that are not good, or may be disliked by a sizable segment of the population, but improving the law means that, before we have a rational debate, we have to agree on the rules of contact. Oh, and, at the very least, our elected representatives should read a legislation before they vote for it to become law! Did you know that many (if not most) in Congress hadn't read the PATRIOT ACT before they voted on it? Yes, that was the practice under the Republican leadership--legislation without review, amendment, and on the backs of the majority of the majority!

Fortunately, there was a change in the last election. Congress can exercise its constitutional duty of review and investigation. Subpoena power will be a familiar term in the next few years, I'm betting. Many of the known scandals will be investigated and many others will surely surface. The latest scandal is the firing of US Attorneys who dared to go after Republicans and refused to persecute Democrats on orders from the White House and other high-level Republicans. How about the FBI abuse of the PATRIOT ACT? At least Director Muller was man enough to accept the blame and say that the inquiry that led to unearthing was "a proper Congressional oversight."

The funny thing is that some Republicans are saying that the government is not competent enough to be an effective Big Brother. The National Review on Line (a very conservative outlet) puts it this way, "It is worth bearing in mind here that Inspector General found the FBI's mistakes here were based on incompetence, not malevolence; aside from not being disposed toward it, our government seems incapable of being Big Brother. Pffff, what a relief. I suppose they think it's OK for lots of power to rest with the incompetent! Not me. I want a smart, efficient, but limited government that respects our civil liberties and acts for the greater good of the greatest number of people!

The PATRIOT ACT must be reviewed and changed, starting with its name. We cannot violate all those principles of liberty and human rights that have made our country a beacon of freedom and tolerance as compared to the rest of the world. We are not the only liberal democracy but we should be an enlightened leader for more democracy and for an open, accountable system of government. Just a few years ago, if someone asked you to name a country that can do warrant less surveillance, imprison anyone without charging him, and, if deemed an "enemy of the state," he could disappear or sent to another country to be tortured, which country would come to mind? Cuba? China? North Korea? The old Soviet Union? Any other country closer than those?...

In which country the authorities can exercise any kind of spying without any supervision and without any recourse for the citizens to an appeal. Where can they pay you a visit and demand everything you've got, and tell you that you must comply, that you can't appeal to a court of law, and you can't even tell anyone about what happened?!!! This is very intimidating and indeed an element of Big Brother. How are we supposed to safeguard our rights and civil liberties? Or, is it OK to forgo those during times of crisis, like during a war on terror--a war that takes place everywhere and will last for ever...

Incompetence coupled with arrogance and power is a sure path to the destruction of the America we know. "A profoundly disturbing breach of public trust," said Sen. Schumer (Senate Judiciary Committee overseeing the FBI) of that federal agency's abuses. I would like Sen. Schumer and Congress to do a study to see whether most of those extra powers we so readily gave to the authorities [and even more foolishly elected chickenhawks to important positions in our government] have kept us safer.

As we've seen in the last few years, the intelligence & the evidence collected are useless if those in charge are incompetent and drunk with the arrogance of power. But, I think the goal is to keep spending lots of money supporting the military-industrial complex [read Eisenhower's address on this]; to prevent & deflect criticism of those in charge; to keep people in fear and, thus, easier to control; and to maintain one of the biggest disparities of a modern country today.