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Fri

20

Jul

2007

The Legal Pervert's Parade: Executive Privilege Über Alles
Friday, 20 July 2007 17:07
by Chris Floyd

Just in case you haven't noticed before, the United States of America has become a presidential tyranny. We've been clanging this bell here (and elsewhere) since late September 2001, and have seen it confirmed over and over through the years — with torture edicts, domestic spying, rendition, secret prisons, indefinite detention of uncharged, untried captives, etc. — and most recently and most baldly with the "Military Commissions Act," which enshrined the principle of arbitrary presidential power in law and gutted the ancient privilege of habeas corpus. This was rubberstamped by the Republican-led Congress last year — and is still standing strong under the Democratic-led Congress.

But now the Bush Regime has taken an even more brazen step into the light with its frankly fascist doctrine of the "Unitary Executive." As the Washington Post reports, the Administration's legal perverts are getting ready to claim — openly, officially — that the president's arbitrary will transcends every law in the land, every section of the Constitution. All he need do is arbitrarily assert "executive privilege" over any operation of government whatsoever to remove it beyond the reach of any legal action, Congressional inquiry — or criminal investigation. As Atrios notes, Bush has already abrogated to himself the "right" to interpret the law, through the "signing statements" he attaches to the bills he signs, declaring that he will obey only those strictures of the law that he sees fit. Now, the Administration is declaring that Bush need not be bound even by those laws he does deign to acknowledge. As the Post reports:

Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege...

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."
This new authoritarian claim grows out of the Congressional investigation of the illegal politicization of the Justice Department — and the many instances of perjury that the investigation has produced, as Bush's legal perverts twisted, squirmed and lied outright under oath. Bush is frantically seeking to keep his top perverts — such as Harriet Miers, the loyal factotum who wiped the dribble from Junior's jim-jams and handed him the state papers he didn't read (i.e., "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S.," etc.) — from testifying before Congress about the White House machinations to fire U.S. attorneys for failing to file bogus cases against targeted enemies of the Leader. The slimy trail of this scheme leads straight to Bush's main minder, Karl Rove. Bush has already demonstrated that he is prepared to sacrifice anything — including the nation's chief undercover operation against the spread of nuclear weapons — to shield his porcine puppeteer. So the new assertion of authoritarian power — yet another slashing knife attack on the dying body of the Constitutional Republic — is small potatoes for this thug.

Yet the assertion, when it comes, will be an important step forward in the revolutionary remaking of the American state that the Bush Regime launched with its judicial coup in 2000. For note well, this "breathtaking" assertion — that Bush can stop any investigation of government wrongdoing simply by claiming "executive privilege" — is not based on Bush's role as "commander-in-chief in wartime," which has been the perverted basis of previous edicts licensing torture, rendition, indefinite detention, unrestricted domestic eavesdropping and the whole sinister schmeer of Bush's Terror War policies. Even this false "justification" — "stern but temporary measures taken as a military necessity while the nation is in peril" — is missing in the new assertion. The new power is seen as a permanent right of the head of the executive branch: an entirely new structural role for the president, who clearly stands above legislative oversight, judicial restraint and the laws of the land.

There is nothing "temporary" about this claim. (Of course, in practice, there is nothing "temporary" about Bush's authoritarian "Commander" powers either, since he claims the "war" which justifies them will go on for decades, perhaps generations; but theoretically at least, these "wartime" powers have a time limit.) Bush is saying that any action taken by the federal government can be cloaked by "executive privilege" as a matter of course, not as a wartime exigency. The Regime has once again — and very deliberately — provoked a constitutional crisis of the highest order. They are very clear about what they are doing. They are overthrowing the laws, traditions and constitutional structures that have maintained the American republic — imperfectly but steadily — for more than 200 years. (As John Gray notes in his new book, Black Mass, the basic structure of the American system has undergone almost no fundamental change since the adoption of the Constitution, unlike the systems of almost every other state around the globe, including such bastions of tradition like the UK; indeed, says Gray, with the possible exception of Switzerland, the United States could claim to be the oldest government in the world.)

The Bush-Cheney regime wants to change all that — and has been changing it, from the very beginning. They believe that the time for democracy and the rule of law has passed. Constitutional government and legal accountability are "quaint notions" that can no longer be indulged by a massive state with "responsibilities" for managing the affairs of the entire world — and a myriad of "enemies" challenging this benign domination. Only a Leader-state — run by a small, secretive cadre of dedicated elites able to operate beyond any restraints of law or outside supervision or public consent — is supple enough to deal with the duties and challenges faced by the "world's only hyperpower." This is their vision of government. It is a radical transformation, in both substance and structure, from what we have known before. It is authoritarian. It is arbitrary. It is ruthless, corrupt, brutal and vile, but because it is clothed in modern garb, in business suits, PR-packaged, slick and airbrushed, we don't see it for the barbaric throwback that it is. As I wrote in November 2001:

It won't come with jackboots and book burnings, with mass rallies and fevered harangues. It won't come with "black helicopters" or tanks on the street. It won't come like a storm – but like a break in the weather, that sudden change of season you might feel when the wind shifts on an October evening: everything is the same, but everything has changed. Something has gone, departed from the world, and a new reality has taken its place.

To be sure, there will be factional conflicts among this elite, and a degree of free debate will be permitted, within limits; but no one outside the privileged circle will be allowed to govern or influence state policy. Dissidents will be marginalized – usually by "the people" themselves. Deprived of historical knowledge by an impoverished educational system designed to produce complacent consumers, not thoughtful citizens, and left ignorant of current events by a media devoted solely to profit, many will internalize the force-fed values of the ruling elite, and act accordingly. There will be little need for overt methods of control.

The rulers will often act in secret; for reasons of "national security," the people will not be permitted to know what goes on in their name. Actions once unthinkable will be accepted as routine: government by executive fiat, the murder of "enemies" selected by the leader, undeclared war, torture, mass detentions without charge, the looting of the national treasury, the creation of huge new "security structures" targeted at the populace. In time, all this will come to seem "normal," as the chill of autumn feels normal when summer is gone.
We are already living in that new reality. And the Democratic-led Congress has shown no sign of recognizing the seriousness of the situation. They refuse to assert the powers given to them by the Constitution for redress of executive tyranny. Not only have they taken impeachment "off the table" (while keeping war — even nuclear war — against Iran "on the table"), but even in the impasse over the subpoenas for Bush's legal perverts, they are refusing to use the legal powers they possess to compel obedience to the law. As the Post notes:

Under long-established procedures and laws, the House and Senate can each pursue two kinds of criminal contempt proceedings, and the Senate also has a civil contempt option. The first, called statutory contempt, has been the avenue most frequently pursued in modern times, and is the one that requires a referral to the U.S. attorney in the District.

Both chambers also have an "inherent contempt" power, allowing either body to hold its own trials and even jail those found in defiance of Congress. Although widely used during the 19th century, the power has not been invoked since 1934 and Democratic lawmakers have not displayed an appetite for reviving the practice.
No, these Democrats definitely have no appetite for concrete action — as opposed to pointless stunts like their all-nighter over their "anti-war" measure that would actually guarantee the long-term presence of a substantial American force in Iraq — which was of course one of the chief aims of Bush's invasion in the first place. (Sean O'Neill makes quick work of this ludicrous carnival here.) Their most likely response to this latest authoritarian power grab will be weeks of hand-wringing fulmination followed by months, if not years, of court action, as the matter winds its way slowly to the waiting arms of a Supreme Court dominated by Bushist apparatchiks. Meanwhile, the authoritarian regime will roll on, growing ever more entrenched, more emboldened and more radical. By the time this particular manifestation of the Bush tyranny is adjudicated, we will almost certainly be hip-deep in war with Iran — or under martial law following another terrorist attack (of whatever provenance) — or perhaps both.

And if you think this prognostication is too grim, too unlikely, or too exaggerated, then you have been sleepwalking through the last six years.
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a guest said:

0
...
I totally agree with everything that Chris Floyd has expressed. I also fesr that it is too little to late to derail the wreckage of our once proud democracy.
 
July 20, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
Just one more step needed...
Just one more step needed for him to be King Bush. And that would be to state that no candidate is capable or qualified to run the country, then outlaw elections.
 
July 20, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
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And in case you haven't noticed, we have a government of checks and balances. The center of power, real or claimed, has certainly shifted to the Executive branch lately. But these things usually even out over time. Don't forget some of the stuff FDR pulled in the years leading up to WWII. We survived him; we'll survive Dubyah. And if you don't like what's going on, file a suit in the courts. That's the Judicial branch, by the way. Or help to defeat or elect the Representative or Senator of your choice. That's the Legislative branch. Checks and balances.
 
July 20, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
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It is not to late to change the EVIL being done to our constitution. It is called IMPEACHMENT. Bush & Cheney's crimes are far worse than anything from the Clinton administration. These are not just my words, but also from the man who wrote the impeachment charges against Bill Clinton. Bill Moyers had an excelent show on this subject last week. Read the transcript here:
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/jour...tml?print

Watch the show here: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/jour...watch.html

I am very concerned about this issue. I wish more Americans were! ~Arthur Stone
 
July 20, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
What a Day for Picking Daisies!
Blue Skies, sunshine, what a day to take a walk in the park.
Ice Cream, daydream til the sky becomes a blanket of stars
What a day for picking daisies and lots of red balloons
And what a day for holdin' hands and being with you.

(Refrain)
Lazy Day, just right for lovin' away
Lazy Day, made for a stroll in the lane;
Baby, you and me (baby, you and me)
And the honeybee (neath the shady tree)
Lazy Day, Lazy Day, Lazy Day for you and me.

Blue skies, sunshine, flowers bloomin', children sayin' "Hello."
Rowboats, bird notes, People smilin' everywhere that we go.
What a day to be together, and what a sky of blue
And what a day for thinkin' right out loud "I love you."

Refrain

What a day for picking daisies and lots of red balloons
And what a day for thinkin' right out loud "I love you."
Lazy Day, just right for lovin' away
Lazy Day, made for a stroll in the lane;
Lazy Day, just right for lovin' away
Lazy Day, made for a stroll in the lane;
 
July 20, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
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Since sept 11 2001 (or even before then) the Democrats and Republicans have covertly formed a single party between themselves and this has become quite blatent because of the lack of government officials representing the people in opposing anti civil liberties legislations and forign wars.

In the present reality we live in, presidents will no longer be elected but selected to suit the eliteist agenda and this has not become a delusional conspiracy theory, this is sadly truth.

The majority of youth who watch tv (last 35 years especially) have being brainwashed by consumate advertising corporations. Instead of being self-aware, self-believing and most of all self-thinking, most youths have been indoctrinated by the corporate elite from a very early age and this conditioning rejects real education which inturn manifests itself into a society which can easily be manipulated. The elite have been playing this clever manipulation game for years and is now here to stay thanks to those who would rather stick to the safty net than work as an understanding collective to punish those who have abuseing government power, for as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, only nation of fools fails to see who wins and who looses.

I think this is one reason why the corrupt congress and white house have been getting away with murder because most people have been conditioned to trust a government who covertly only thinks about themselves and sept 11 2001 is a perfect example...
 
July 20, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

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Ilove the poem there...My enthuasism's reality relate to such tranqualitity of the reason's why we (I think) as a species should relate to each other.

Enlightenment is knowing that 'humanity as a whole' is totally abundant and it is feeeling creative, free and wanting to share and enjoy thais truth with all as a result. It is knowing that creative intelligance is infinite and that we can all create more abundance for the good as whole.

Our problem is that most of us believe in individual abundance and scarcity, and believe that we have to compete with one another for the limited, finite, scarce resources we see in the world.

Enlightenment is knowing that we are masters and co-creatos of what we bring into the world and no desire to compete for what's alredy there. Unconditional is the state.
THE ENLIGHTENED MIND ACCEPTS - THE FEARFUL MIND REJECTS?

Without this knowing, we are likely to believe and feel that we are servents and even victims of a 'dog eat dog' world. Fear is the state.

Stop trying, and stare 'being'.
It is ony your mind/ego that is demanding more that presses you into a well of dissatisfaction. True you know deep down that you can create more, but such a demanding approach will only reinforce your percieved lack on abundance.


 
July 22, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
Anti American Journalism?
It appears although your writers have a serious wealth of journalism experience, your website spews primarily anti Bush, anti American articles which bash everything from U.S. military tactics,political policies,government mismanagement and all the other terrible things that America is responsible for. Is that why you operate over seas? Are you not welcomed here? Not everything that America does is bad. The U.S. gives billions of dollars and provides food, medicine and housing assistance to people in need in countries all over the world each year. Do you ever write any articles about that? Curious.
 
July 22, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

Richard Kastelein said:

Richard Kastelein
Because the US media are lapdogs to the corptocracy in which you live.
Most of the writers are American. The publisher and editors are located overseas because that's where we live. I am more than welcome to live and or travel in the USA - and have done so many times in the past. It's simply not the place for me... I prefer - and do - live in Europe for good reason.

Do we write articles about the 'good' America does around the world? Not very often - but you can simply click on Fox News or CNN and get plenty of that. Note our slogan - HARD TRUTHS FOR HARD TIMES. We provide alternative views from dissident writers.

Glossing over America's disgusting foreign policy with 'feel good' advertorials is not in our prospectus. We are not shy in providing truths not normally published in and outside the USA - alternative opinions that provide the other side of the story.

Deal with it - or better yet - don't read it if you don't like it.
 
July 22, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

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