The Latest Version of Lunatic Fringe

To echo the words of Microsoft senior security analyst Steve Riley: When does too much security become too much? When the cost of mitigating the risks outweighs the cost of that which you are trying to protect.

There have been a lot of dirty politics involving the Bush Administration, all the laws they keep changing or trying to change to make their illegal activites legal and all the tactics used to get results. Now there is reportedly more evidence of how low and questionable this Presidential Administration has become.

The Bush Administration U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is trying to give the Bush Administration the authority to be above the law and to make it so that judges won’t be able to do anything about it. In other words, he’s trying to make all the illegal activities performed in the name of “National Security and Terrorism” by the Bush Administration for the past 6 years legal.

Senior attorneys from the DOJ argued in a federal appeals court that if the Bush Administration invokes the “state secret” privilege it should dismiss lawsuits that could disclose national security secrets. It would also keep every illegally performed violation against U.S. citizens, and there are a lot, secret to protect everyone in the Bush Administration.

Now President Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales are trying to expand the “state secrets” privilege to allow them to throw out a lawsuit based on a principle that even if the president is breaking the law it’s ok since it’s in the name of National Security. Courts would have no authority over it since it affects “national security.” The kinds of power that would literally be a license to commit murder wherever and whenever, whether right or wrong, and get away with it. It would in effect, create a Hitleresque dictatorship, giving one man complete control and the final word over the destiny of this nation.

This stems from a civil lawsuit against AT&T filed to correct wrongdoing. It does not involve criminal prosecution but the principle is the same. 50 USC 1809 makes it a federal felony to engage in electronic surveillance under color of law, except as authorized by statute.

More Than Illegal Wiretapping

Last month it was reported that Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence testified at a Congressional hearing that the Bush administration authorized a series of secret surveillance activities under a single executive order in 2001, making it known that controversial NSA programs were part of a much broader operation than the president admitted.

McConnell wrote a letter to Senator Arlen Specter noting that the executive order that followed Sept. 11, 2001 attacks included “a number of intelligence activities” and that the Terrorist Surveillance Program admitted to by the president only applied to “one particular aspect of these activities, and nothing more.”

Legal Twists and Turns Along the Way

The U.S. Patriot Act allows the government to search your home without a warrant and without your knowledge among other things. It also gives powers that should and did belong to federal judges to the U.S. Attorney General.

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 makes it ok to extract information from an individual in any way that defines torture as anything that could lead to organ failure and takes away rights under Habeas Corpus for “anyone suspected” of being a terrorist. You can be held for indefinite periods of time and not told what you’re being charged with.

During a recent press conference, Peter Baker from the Washington Post asked Bush if he had read a highly confidential report by the International Committee of the Red Cross detailing an interrogation program in CIA detention facilities and the interrogation techniques that were ‘tantamount to torture.’ A video of his response “haven’t seen it, we don’t torture” is here.

The report alleges that “American officials responsible for the abusive treatment” at CIA black sites may have committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and violated the U.S. Torture Act passed by Congress in 1994. Our “elected” officials wouldn’t do abuse their authority would they?

The Insurrection Act aka the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 was amended in 2006 to give the President control over each states National Guard units over the wishes of the Governors of each state for law enforcement power, eliminating Posse Comitatus incorporated into the Constitution so there is a separation of powers from State and Federal Government.

Executive Order: Blocking property of certain persons who threaten stabilization efforts in Iraq which says that anyone interfering with the pacification of Iraq could have their assets taken from them by the Treasury Secretary, whether here or abroad.

National Security Presidential Directive 51 makes President Bush the head of the Judicial, Legislative and Executive Branches of Government in the event of an emergency, although he won’t tell members of Congress what an emergency might consist of. More Executive Orders can be found on the White House site.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 prescribes procedures for requesting judicial authorization for electronic surveillance and physical search of persons engaged in espionage or international terrorism against the United States on behalf of a foreign power.

The Bush administration says that the White House Office of Administration is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act Laws….apparently the White House thinks it’s not accountable for anything.

This is just the tip of the iceberg and it appears too incredibly Totalitarian. Many laws have been rewritten or removed in attempts to make illegal actions legal, effectively destroying the United States Constitution and Democracy with no regard for American Citizens rights — with the exception of those closest allies who serve a purpose, and those who can keep secrets. Also on the White House web site is an explanation of the internship program where you can serve President Bush, not America.

Someone With a Conscience

The 3 paragraphs below are part of a letter published in the Denver Post from an attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice:

“As a longtime attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, I can honestly say that I have never been as ashamed of the department and government that I serve as I am at this time.

The public record now plainly demonstrates that both the DOJ and the government as a whole have been thoroughly politicized in a manner that is inappropriate, unethical and indeed unlawful. The unconscionable commutation of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s sentence, the misuse of warrantless investigative powers under the Patriot Act and the deplorable treatment of U.S. attorneys all point to an unmistakable pattern of abuse.

In the course of its tenure since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has turned the entire government (and the DOJ in particular) into a veritable Augean stable on issues such as civil rights, civil liberties, international law and basic human rights, as well as criminal prosecution and federal employment and contracting practices. It has systematically undermined the rule of law in the name of fighting terrorism, and it has sought to insulate its actions from legislative or judicial scrutiny and accountability by invoking national security at every turn, engaging in persistent fearmongering, routinely impugning the integrity and/or patriotism of its critics, and protecting its own lawbreakers. This is neither normal government conduct nor “politics as usual,” but a national disgrace of a magnitude unseen since the days of Watergate – which, in fact, I believe it eclipses.”

Can’t imagine why a federal judge residing over the hearing would be skeptical: “The bottom line here is that once the executive declares that certain activity is a state secret, that’s the end of it?” Judge Harry Pregerson asked. “No cases, no litigation, absolute immunity? The king can do no wrong?”

What You Can Do About It

As the author of the article writes: “These are the kind of questions that journalists should be asking as well, and that’s what I’m planning to do through this new blog here on CNET News.com. It’s an independent, nonpartisan effort to report on the intersection of technology, law and policy in the areas that affect our lives and liberty.

And because I said it would be nonpartisan, I should acknowledge that the Department of Justice during the Clinton and Carter presidencies invoked the state secret privilege as well. And it’s true that perhaps a Gore or Kerry presidency would have veered in the same expansive direction as Bush has. But that lies in the realm of speculation; the reality today is that we have the worrying prospect of a president who would place himself above the law.”

If you want to do something about it, contact the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate. Both the Congress and the Senate need to start doing what they were elected to do, not to mention start doing the right thing.

Everything referenced is listed below:

  • Appeals court may let NSA lawsuits proceed from CNET News
  • 2000 Presidential Election information from Rutgers University
  • War on Terror overblown: Microsoft article from APCMag
  • NSA has massive database of Americans’ phone calls article from USA Today
  • Questions and answers about the NSA phone record collection program article from USA Today
  • Letter tells of broader NSA spy program article from the LA Times
  • Data Mining Figured in Dispute Over NSA article from the Washington Post
  • Bush’s Changing Administration article from BBC News
  • Gonzales: Did He Help Bush Keep His DUI Quiet? article from MSNBC
  • Alberto Gonzales and the Coup Against Democracy article from Global Research
  • Why Bush won’t ax Gonzales article from Time Magazine
  • Lots of references to all kinds of information on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the numerous escapades of his as a friend of George Bush and the Bush family from Crooks and Liars
  • All kinds of information relating to the perjury in several different testimonies among various other reasons to impeach Attorney General Alberto Gonzales from Crooks and Liars
  • Bush insists Alberto Gonzales has done nothing wrong video from Raw Story
  • US CODE: Title 50, 1809. Criminal sanctions from Cornell University Law School
  • NSA spying part of broader effort article from the Washington Post
  • U.S. Patriot Act from the Library of Congress
  • Military Commissions Act of 2006 from the Library of Congress
  • Bush on torture report: “haven’t seen it. we don’t torture” video from one of his famous speeches
  • Torture, Cover-Up at Gitmo? Former Translator Says Prisoner Interrogations Were Staged for VIPs article from CBS News
  • Red Cross Finds Detainee Abuse in Guantanamo article from the New York Times
  • The Insurrection Act aka the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007
  • Executive Order: Blocking property of certain persons who threaten stabilization efforts in Iraq which says that anyone interfering with the pacification of Iraq could have their assets taken from them by the Treasury Secretary, whether here or abroad. So many double standards if you think about it. Wonder if that applies to the current administration…
  • National Security Presidential Directive 51 makes President Bush the head of the Judicial, Legislative and Executive Branches of Government in the event of an emergency, although he won’t tell members of Congress what an emergency might consist of
  • More Executive Orders can be found on the White House site
  • Information on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)
  • White House Declares Office Off-Limits article from the Washington Post
  • Service to Bush now trumps service to country from Jones Report – interns at the White House don’t serve the country. They serve the president
  • The White House internship information page
  • Bush Justice Is A National Disgrace article from the Denver Post
  • Bush, ‘State Secrets,’ And National Security Run Amok article from CNET News
  • United States House of Representatives, 110th Congress
  • The United States Senate

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