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Editor, The Konformist
The Return of Total Information Awareness
Bush Asserts Dictatorial "Inherent" Powers
NEW YORK -- Civil libertarians relaxed when, in September 2003,
Republicans bowed to public outcry and cancelled Total Information
Awareness. TIA was a covert "data mining" operation run out of the
Pentagon by creepy Iran-Contra figure John Poindexter. Bush
Administration marketing mavens had tried to dress up the
sinister "dataveillance" spook squad--first by changing TIA to
Terrorism Information Awareness, then to the Information Awareness
Office--to no avail. "But," wondered the Electronic Frontier
Foundation watchdog group a month after Congress cut its
funding, "is TIA truly dead?"
At the time I bet "no." Once a regime has revealed a predilection
for spying on its own people, the histories of East Germany and
Richard Nixon teach us, they never quit voluntarily. The cyclical
clicks that appeared on my phone line after 9/11 corroborated my
belief that federal spy agencies were using the War on Terrorism as
a pretext for harassing their real enemies: liberals and others who
criticized their policies. As did the phony Verizon employee tearing
out of my building's basement, leaving the phone switching box open,
when I demanded to see his identification. He drove away in an
So I was barely surprised to hear the big news that Bush had ordered
the National Security Agency, FBI and CIA to tap the phones and
emails of such dangerously subversive radical Islamist anti-American
terrorist groups as Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals, the American Indian Movement and the Catholic Workers,
without bothering to apply for a warrant. "The Catholic Workers
advocated peace with a Christian and semi-communistic ideology," an
agent wrote in an FBI dossier, a man sadly unaware of the passings
of J. Edgar Hoover and the Soviet Union.
Old joke: A suspect running away from a cop ducks down a long dark
alley. When the policeman's partner catches up he finds the first
cop walking around in circles under a bright streetlamp. "What are
you doing?" the second officer asks. "The guy ran into that
alley!" "I know," his colleague replies, "but looking for him out
here is a lot easier."
No wonder they haven't found Osama bin Laden. Tapping the ACLU's
phones is easier than traipsing through Pakistani Kashmir.
The return of brazen Nixon-style domestic eavesdropping --it
undoubtedly occurred under presidents from Ford to Clinton, though
on a smaller, more discreet scale--indicates that the White House is
flipping ahead to the next page in its Hitler playbook, the part
about exploiting a state of perpetual war to stifle internal dissent
on a vast scale. "As part of the program approved by President Bush
for domestic surveillance without warrants," the New York Times
reports, "the NSA has gained the cooperation of American
telecommunications companies to obtain backdoor access to streams of
domestic and international communications." Maybe I should worry
about the real Verizon guy too.
But then, last week, Bush also claimed the right to spy within the
United States. Despite Congressional denials Bush said that the
resolution that authorized him to use force to go after the
perpetrators behind 9/11--which he used to invade Afghanistan--also
gave him the right to listen in on Greenpeace and infiltrate a PETA
seminar on veganism (yes, really). Attorney General and torture
aficionado Alberto R. Gonzales cited the president's "inherent power
as commander in chief."
Actually, as Peter Irons documents in his outstanding War Powers:
How the Imperial Presidency Hijacked the Constitution, the Founding
Fathers never intended for the "commander in chief" to have any
powers beyond ordering troops to repel an invasion force. As
everyone understood in 1787, the title was strictly ceremonial. A
president can't declare war, much less violate our privacy, based on
his commander-in-chief "authority."
Officials of a democratic republic derive their power and authority
from law. As servants of the people, they can't do anything unless
it's specifically authorized by law or judicial interpretations
thereof. Only in authoritarian and totalitarian regimes may a legal
theory be created that imbues the leader, as the personal embodiment
of the state, with "inherent" powers. For example, the Nazi "führer
principle," in which the head of state was answerable to no one and
the legislative and judicial branches of governments were reduced to
rubber stamps, required Hitler to assign himself inherent powers.
Bush and Gonzales' interpretation of their roles is alien, un-
American. Do they understand our system of government? Or are they
trying to change it to something more "efficient"--something closer
to authoritarian state led by a strongman, or even outright fascism?
When I first read about Bush's domestic eavesdropping operation--
which he promises to continue--I did what any left-of-center Bush-
bashing cartoonist and columnist would do: I filed Freedom of
Information Act requests to force the FBI, CIA and NSA to cough up
whatever they've got on me. After all, if the feds are going after
Ancient Forest Rescue, it isn't a big stretch to surmise that they
might be interested in a guy who says that George W. Bush is
illegitimate, dumb as a rock and the head of a cabal of sociopathic
mass murderers who've done more to destroy the United States than
Osama. I'll let you know what, if anything, turns up.
Interesting tidbit: When I visited the NSA's official website, my
browser warned me that I was "about to enter a site that is not
secure." Ain't that the truth.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
What Are We Waiting For? Christmas?
Bush Should Be Impeached NOW
By Gerald Rellick
"In all of this, George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to
his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government,
to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the
manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore,
George W. Bush, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and
removal from office."
Substitute the name Richard Nixon for George Bush and you have the
closing words of the three Articles of Impeachment from the House
Judiciary Committee against Richard Nixon in July 1974.
After more than 30 years I still find these words chilling. Today we
again face such somber judgment and must be prepared as a nation to
confront the reality that these same words apply to George W. Bush
and, like Richard Nixon, Bush's conduct as president "warrants
impeachment and trial and removal from office."
The three articles of impeachment cited Nixon for: (1) obstruction
of justice involving the investigation of the Watergate break-in;
(2) "knowingly misusing [his] executive power [and] violating the
constitutional rights of citizens" by ordering illegal surveillances
of U.S. citizens, using the agencies of the IRS, FBI, CIA and Secret
Service to carry out such surveillances and other obstructions; and
(3) "willfully disobeying subpoenas" issued by the Judiciary
Following the Judiciary Committee vote, Republican Senator Barry
Goldwater, in a now-famous visit to the White House, informed Nixon
that if a Senate trial went forward, Nixon could expect no more than
10 votes in his favor, and that he, Barry Goldwater, "would not be
one of them." Nixon resigned the presidency shortly thereafter,
formal House impeachment.
With the recent revelations by the New York Times of George Bush's
domestic surveillance program without court-approved warrants, Bush
is seen to be in clear violation of the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act (FISA), passed in 1978 specifically to prevent the
kind of illegal surveillances that occurred in the Nixon years.
However, the second article of impeachment against Nixon, directed
at illegal surveillance, added that Nixon misused federal
agencies "for purposes unrelated to national security "
Perhaps seeing this as a loophole, Bush and his legal team initially
claimed that the president has the legal authority to contravene or
suspend certain laws in the interests of national security in his
role as commander in chief. This is clearly a specious argument and
raises the obvious question of which laws the president is obligated
to follow and which he is free to ignore. Bush's stance prompted one
Los Angeles Times letter writer to ask if Bush might suspend the
2008 elections if he felt it was "in the interests of national
Most recently however, the White House backed off slightly from this
imperialist argument and stated in a formal letter to Congress on
December 22 that the September 2001 Congressional resolution, known
as the "Authorization to Use Military Force" gave the president the
authorization he needed for warrantless wiretaps. The resolution
authorizes "all necessary and appropriate force against those
nations, organizations or persons [the president] determines
planned, authorized, committed or aided" the attacks of Sept. 11.
Such a broad interpretation is clearly unwarranted. In an op-ed
column in the Washington Post the following day, former Senate
majority leader, Tom Daschle, states that President Bush got no such
authorization from Congress. In fact, says Daschle, just before this
resolution was about to be voted on, the White House attempted to
make one more change, to add the words "in the United States"
after "appropriate force." The request was rejected. Writes Daschle:
"This last-minute change would have given the president broad
authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas -- where we
all understood he wanted authority to act -- but right here in the
United States, potentially against American citizens. I could see no
justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request
for additional authority."
Daschle adds that if the administration believed the resolution gave
Bush the legal authority to go around FISA to spy on U.S. citizens,
it would never have asked for the revision in language.
Bush's admission of domestic spying without FISA-mandated warrants
has led to a number of calls for his impeachment. This latest
manifestation of Bush illegality is easier to focus on because there
exists a specific law that prohibits it. However, it has become
clear over the last two years that a budding-form of dictatorial
power has been at the heart of the Bush presidency since its
beginning. Illegal spying on a "few thousand" Americans -- while
certainly not to be ignored does not begin to compare in magnitude
to Bush's fraud in selling the Iraq war; and appropriately, some
calls for impeachment include this fraud perpetrated on Congress.
It's interesting that this latest revelation may just be the
proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back and opens the way for
a full investigation of the white House's actions in the post-9/11
The most compelling truth remains that George W. Bush, along with
members of his cabinet and staff, misled and deceived Congress and
the American people about the true situation in Iraq and about their
own intentions. As a consequence of this deceit, they were able to
bully and trick Congress into giving Bush a green light to invade
Iraq, an action he subsequently took, with results now seen as so
utterly disastrous that they would have been incomprehensible to any
sane, intelligent person three years ago.
More than 2,000 of our men and women in uniform have been killed,
15,000 more wounded, and at least 30,000 Iraqis have been killed,
most of them civilians, including many women and children. Iraq's
infrastructure has been almost totally destroyed, its environment
grievously poisoned, billions of US tax dollars have vanished in the
depthless pit of death and destruction that has become Iraq today,
and Iraq borders on civil war. To add to this colossal debacle, U.S.
troops and CIA personnel were directed to disobey the Geneva
Convention on treatment of prisoners, setting the stage for torture
and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners in Iraq,
witnessed embarrassingly by the entire world in graphic detail when
the Abu Ghraib prison abuses became public. As a result the U.S. is
routinely mocked as a global pariah and a threat to world peace
all thanks to one man, George W. Bush.
Bush's arrogant defense of his illegal spying activities is
reminiscent of Richard Nixon's statement during the period of his
impeachment hearings: "When the President does it, that means it's
not illegal." And like with Nixon, it forces a showdown with
Congress. As Jonathan Schell writes in The Nation:
"Members of Congress have no choice but to accept [Bush's] challenge
If Congress accepts his usurpation of its legislative power, they
will be no Congress and might as well stop meeting. Either the
President must uphold the laws of the United States, which are
Congress's laws, or he must leave office."
It should be added that such a showdown must of necessity address
all of Bush's suspect activities following 9/11. The evidence for
illegal White House action is now compelling. For Congress to turn
away its head now would be an egregious failure of its
constitutional responsibilities. A bipartisan Congress faced up to
the challenge in 1974 when the laws of the land were being usurped
by a rogue president. They can do it again.
Gerald S. Rellick, Ph.D., worked in the defense sector of the
aerospace industry for 22 years. He now teaches in the California
Community College system. He can be reached at grellick@....
Democratic Congressman Releases Potentially 'Lethal Document' That
Could Lead To Bush Impeachment Next Year
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mi) is tired of the Bush arrogance and
flaunting of federal law concerning the Iraq War and other matters.
Friday he released a document called "The Constitution in Crisis,"
seeking a Congrssional Resolution to again investigate Bush's
By Greg Szymanski
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mi) released a potentially lethal document
Friday, focusing on the numerous federal violations of the Bush
administration, including evidence of WMD intelligence cover-ups,
deception, manipulation, retribution and torture concerning the
The document, entitled "The Constitution in Crisis," finds more than
probable cause and substantial evidence for many federal law
violations by top administration officials, including the President
and Vice President, based on their blatant and arrogant abuse of
"I have introduced a resolution creating a Select Committee with
subpoena authority to investigate the misconduct of the Bush
Administration with regard to the Iraq war and report on possible
impeachable offenses, as well as Resolutions proposing both
President Bush and Vice-President Cheney should be censured by
Congress based on the uncontroverted evidence of their abuse of
power," said Rep. Conyers in a statement released this week
regarding action to be taken when Congress returns after the
Besides specifically detailing the many Bush administration federal
violations concerning Iraq, Rep.. Conyers severely scolds and
attacks the administration for its "arrogance, hubris and
wrongheadedness," highlighting the dangers of a one party rule in
Congress and a lack of check and balances on President Bush who is
acting more like a dictator than a President of the people.
"It is important that we as a nation say "never again" to going to
war under false pretenses, and covering up official wrongdoing,"
added Rep. Conyers, who has been a strong advocate for getting to
the truth of allegations President Bush doctored intelligence
reports to justify an illegal Iraqi invasion.
In the lengthy report submitted to Congress and being distributed
widely across America for citizens signatures, Sen. Conyers said he
took this drastic action to "save the country" after President Bush
arrogantly refused to respond to a letter submitted by 122 members
of Congress and more than 500,000 Americans last July, asking him
whether information in the infamous Downing Street Memo, alleging
doctoring of WMD intelligence, was accurate.
Since Bush failed to acknowledge the letter, Conyers staff prepared
the legal document released this week, finding substantial evidence
that Bush and Cheney misled Congress and the American people
regarding decisions to go to war with Iraq, misstated and
manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for
entering into the war, mandated torture and cruel inhumane treatment
in the execution of the war, as well as permitted inappropriate
retaliation against critics of the administration.
In the Executive Summary of the document which will seek a
Resolution for Congress to seek impeachment, Rep. Conyers through
his legal staff added:
"There is prima facie case that these actions by the President, Vice
President and other members of the Bush administration violated a
number of federal laws, including committing a fraud against the
U.S.; making false statements to Congress; violating the War Powers
Resolution; misuse of government funds; violating international
treaties prohibiting torture; violating federal laws concerning
retaliating against witnesses and other individuals and violating
federal laws concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence."
While the document raises charges meriting Bush's impeachment, it
notes that special investigative powers be established by
Congressional Resolution since the Republican controlled Legislative
and Executive branches has systematically and illegally blocked off
a fair and honest search for the truth, using its power to protect a
corrupt and out-of-control President and Vice President.
"As a result, we recommend that Congress establish a select
committee with subpoena authority to investigate the misconduct of
the Bush administration with regard to the Iraq War and report to
the Committee on the Judiciary on possible impeachable offenses,"
added Rep. Conyers.
For more informative articles, go to www.arcticbeacon.com.
Robalini's Note: Meanwhile, according to the Justice Department, the
issue isn't Shrub's blatant violation of the law, but that his
blatant violation of the law was revealed. Most telling quote is
from White House spokesman Duffy: "The fact is that al-Qaida's
playbook is not printed on Page One and when America's is, it has
serious ramifications." That's right, the illegal spying operation
is page one of the Bush Team (oh, excuse me, America's) playbook.
Justice Dept. Probing Domestic Spying Leak
By TONI LOCY, Associated Press Writer
The Justice Department has opened an investigation into the leak of
classified information about President Bush's secret domestic spying
The inquiry focuses on disclosures to The New York Times about
warrantless surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency
since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, officials said.
The Times revealed the existence of the program two weeks ago in a
front-page story that acknowledged the news had been withheld from
publication for a year, partly at the request of the administration
and partly because the newspaper wanted more time to confirm various
aspects of the program.
White House spokesman Trent Duffy said Justice undertook the action
on its own, and the president was informed of it on Friday.
"The leaking of classified information is a serious issue. The fact
is that al-Qaida's playbook is not printed on Page One and when
America's is, it has serious ramifications," Duffy told reporters in
Crawford, Texas, where Bush was spending the holidays.
Catherine Mathis, a spokeswoman for The Times, said the paper will
not comment on the investigation.
Revelation of the secret spying program unleashed a firestorm of
criticism of the administration. Some critics accused the president
of breaking the law by authorizing intercepts of conversations
without prior court approval or oversight of people inside the
United States and abroad who had suspected ties to al-Qaida or its
The surveillance program, which Bush acknowledged authorizing,
bypassed a nearly 30-year-old secret court established to oversee
highly sensitive investigations involving espionage and terrorism.
Administration officials insisted that Bush has the power to conduct
the warrantless surveillance under the Constitution's war powers
provision. They also argued that Congress gave Bush the power to
conduct such a secret program when it authorized the use of military
force against terrorism in a resolution adopted within days of the
Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The Justice Department's investigation was being initiated after the
agency received a request for the probe from the NSA.
Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has been conducting a separate
leak investigation to determine who in the administration leaked CIA
operative Valerie Plame's name to the media in 2003.
Several reporters have been called to testify before a grand jury or
to give depositions. New York Times reporter Judith Miller spent 85
days in jail, refusing to reveal her source, before testifying in
The administration's legal interpretation of the president's powers
allowed the government to avoid requirements under the 1978 Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act in conducting the warrantless
The act established procedures that an 11-member court used in 2004
to oversee nearly 1,800 government applications for secret
surveillance or searches of foreigners and U.S. citizens suspected
of terrorism or espionage.
Congressional leaders have said they were not briefed four years
ago, when the secret program began, as thoroughly as the
administration has since contended.
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said in an article printed
last week on the op-ed page of The Washington Post that Congress
explicitly denied a White House request for war-making authority in
the United States.
"This last-minute change would have given the president broad
authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas ... but
right here in the United States, potentially against American
citizens," Daschle wrote.
Daschle was Senate Democratic leader at the time of the 2001
terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington. He is now a
fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington
The administration formally defended its domestic spying program in
a letter to Congress last week, saying the nation's security
outweighs privacy concerns of individuals who are monitored.
In a letter to the chairs of the House and Senate intelligence
committees, the Justice Department said Bush authorized conducting
electronic surveillance without first obtaining a warrant in an
effort to thwart terrorist acts against the United States.
Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella
acknowledged "legitimate" privacy interests. But he said those
interests "must be balanced" against national security.