Where have we gone, America?
On Staged “Terrorist” Attacks and Dictatorship
Impeach Now or Face the End of Constitutional Democracy, Paul Craig Roberts, Counterpunch
Unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the US could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran. Bush has put in place all the necessary measures for dictatorship in the form of “executive orders” that are triggered whenever Bush declares a national emergency. Recent statements by Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff, former Republican senator Rick Santorum and others suggest that Americans might expect a series of staged, or false flag, “terrorist” events in the near future.
(thanks to John Gamble)
On Executive Order “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq,” July 17, 2007
This order allows the Executive Branch to freeze assets – without evidence, notice, oversight, trial or appeal – in a chain of perceived culpability. Even representative legal services could be interpreted to be a form of support.
The Treasury Secretary has sole discretion to determine who is in violation of this order, in ‘consultation’ with the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State. That last part is verbiage; Treasury has the power per this order. Even better, the Secretary of Treasury has the explicit authority to delegate this decision to any flunky or flunkies of his choice per Sec. 6. This order applies to all persons within the United States. If Treasury declares that a person is a ‘SIGNIFICANT RISK’ to commit violence in Iraq, or a ‘SIGNIFICANT RISK’ to support violence in Iraq in any way, or to have assisted in any way a person who is a ‘SIGNIFICANT RISK’ to do so, all their assets are to be immediately frozen.
It is a further violation of the order to make a donation to such a person whose assets have been frozen. (I was being literal when I said ’starve’ them. Such a person would have no legal means of acquiring food, clothing, or shelter. They couldn’t buy it with frozen assets, nor accept it as a gift, and stealing is already illegal.)…
Oh, I probably don’t need to mention the obvious, but the lack of due process, lack of evidentiary requirements, and the vagueness surrounding exactly what constitutes a violation make this order a totalitarian dream. And there is no end to the ‘daisy chain’ it creates, either. If you donate money to a person whose assets were frozen because they gave money to a person who was declared to be a ‘significant risk’ to commit or support violence in Iraq, then you are subject to the order, subject to have your assets frozen, and anyone helping you thereafter gets the same treatment. This order is far in excess of the presidential orders from 20+ years ago that were circulated to make us afraid of the government.
On Obstruction of Justice and the Expansion of Executive Privilege
No, the documents will not be forthcoming. No, they don’t have to testify. No, they won’t be held in contempt. No, Congress will not be allowed to pursue this matter.
Under federal law, a statutory contempt citation by the House or Senate must be submitted to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, “whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action.” But administration officials argued yesterday that Congress has no power to force a U.S. attorney to pursue contempt charges in cases, such as the prosecutor firings, in which the president has declared that testimony or documents are protected from release by executive privilege. …
Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University who has written a book on executive-privilege issues, called the administration’s stance “astonishing.” “That’s a breathtakingly broad view of the president’s role in this system of separation of powers,” Rozell said. “What this statement is saying is the president’s claim of executive privilege trumps all.”
The administration’s statement is a dramatic attempt to seize the upper hand in an escalating constitutional battle with Congress, which has been trying for months, without success, to compel White House officials to testify and to turn over documents about their roles in the prosecutor firings last year.
On Bush’s Veto Choices
The White House said that President Bush would veto a bipartisan plan drafted over the last six months by senior members of the Senate Finance Committee to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program which is set to expire Sept. 30. The vow puts Mr. Bush at odds with the Democratic majority in Congress, with a substantial number of Republican lawmakers and with many governors of both parties, who want to expand the popular program to cover some of the nation’s eight million uninsured children. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bipartisan plan “would reduce the number of uninsured children by 4.1 million.”
On the Iraq War and Occupation
The Iraq war is lost, Peter Galbraith
The case for the war is no longer defined by the benefits of winning — a stable Iraq, democracy on the march in the Middle East, the collapse of the evil Iranian and Syrian regimes — but by the consequences of defeat.
Constitutionally, Iraq’s central government has almost no power, and the Bush administration is partially to blame for this. When the constitution was being drafted in 2005, the United Nations came up with a series of proposals that would have made for a more workable sharing of power between regions and the central government. The U.S. Embassy stopped the U.N. from presenting these proposals because it hoped for a final document as centralized as (and textually close to) the interim constitution written by the Americans. …
For the most part, Iraq’s leaders are not personally stubborn or uncooperative. They find it impossible to reach agreement on the benchmarks because their constituents don’t agree on any common vision for Iraq. The Shiites voted twice in 2005 for parties that seek to define Iraq as a Shiite state. By their boycotts and votes the Sunni Arabs have almost unanimously rejected the Shiite vision of Iraq’s future, including the new constitution. The Kurds’ envisage an Iraq that does not include them. In the 2005 parliamentary elections, 99 percent of them voted for Kurdish nationalist parties, and in the January 2005 referendum, 98 percent voted for an independent Kurdistan.
But even if Iraq’s politicians could agree to the benchmarks, this wouldn’t end the insurgency or the civil war. Sunni insurgents object to Iraq’s being run by Shiite religious parties, which they see as installed by the Americans, loyal to Iran, and wanting to define Iraq in a way that excludes the Sunnis. Sunni fundamentalists consider the Shiites apostates who deserve death, not power. The Shiites believe that their democratic majority and their historical suffering under the Baathist dictatorship entitle them to rule. They are not inclined to compromise with Sunnis, whom they see as their long-standing oppressors, especially when they believe most Iraqi Sunnis are sympathetic to the suicide bombers that have killed thousands of ordinary Shiites. The differences are fundamental and cannot be papered over by sharing oil revenues, reemploying ex-Baathists, or revising the constitution. The war is not about those things….
In laying out his dark vision of an American failure, Bush never discusses Iran’s domination of Iraq even though this is a far more likely consequence of American defeat than an al-Qaida victory.
On Lack of Accountability for Weakening our Intelligence Network and Outing a CIA Agent
U.S. District Judge John D. Bates dismissed former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s lawsuit against members of the Bush administration in the CIA leak scandal. Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had accused Vice President Dick Cheney and others of conspiring to leak her identity in 2003. Plame said that violated her privacy rights and was illegal retribution for her husband’s criticism of the administration. Bates argued that such efforts (treason?!) are a natural part of the officials’ job duties, and “immune from liability.” Bates dismissed the case against all defendants (Cheney, White House political adviser Karl Rove, former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage) and said he would not express an opinion on the “constitutional arguments.”
How many CIA operatives and informants are dead or compromised because of this? How much vital intelligence have we missed because of this? Review again the kind of work that Valerie Plame had been doing…
Bates? A Bush appointee, additionally appointed by Chief Justice Roberts in February 2006 to serve as a judge of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which is currently overseeing the warrantless spying operations.
- 1995-1997: Served as Deputy Independent Counsel to Whitewater investigator Ken Starr and its intensely partisan investigation.
- December 2002: Ruled that Congress lacked the standing to sue Cheney over access to the records of the energy task force. The lawsuit was an attempt by U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker to make Cheney reveal the names of industry executives who were instrumental in shaping the national energy policy. Bates said that turning over that information “would hobble an administration’s essential, legitimate ability to receive frank information and advice.”
- 2004: (Glimmer of light) Rejected the Bush Administration’s argument that a U.S. citizen detained abroad under U.S. control cannot invoke habeas corpus (Abu Ali v. John Ashcroft). “The Court concludes that a citizen cannot be so easily separated from his constitutional rights.”
- August 2006: Ruled that it was okey-dokey for the president to sign a bill that had not been passed by Congress.