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31 August 2008

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Curious

Mukasey also announced he is going to spy on everybody, whoever he feels like it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/22/opinion/22fri2.html?bl&ex=1219550400&en=f3382fa42a9af6ce&ei=5087%0A

A New Rush to Spy

August 22, 2008

There is apparently no limit to the Bush administration’s desire to invade Americans’ privacy in the name of national security. According to members of Congress, Attorney General Michael Mukasey is preparing to give the F.B.I. broad new authority to investigate Americans — without any clear basis for suspicion that they are committing a crime.

Opening the door to sweeping investigations of this kind would be an invitation to the government to spy on people based on their race, religion or political activities. Before Mr. Mukasey goes any further, Congress should insist that the guidelines be fully vetted, and it should make certain that they do not pose a further threat to Americans’ civil liberties.

Leila Abu-Saba

Oh goodie, clowns.

Thank you, Maureen, for keeping your eye on the ball. The rest of us need to call our congresspeople on Tuesday and express our objections. Phone calls matter much more than e-mail.

What are the details on this proposal? Is it legislation? Bill #?

Homer

With the implications of your post in mind, pls consider what is below.

More evidence for the Rise of the Right Wing Reich ....

Massive police raids on suspected protestors in Minneapolis

[snip]

Jane Hamsher and I were at two of those homes this morning -- one which had just been raided and one which was in the process of being raided. Each of the raided houses is known by neighbors as a "hippie house," where 5-10 college-aged individuals live in a communal setting, and everyone we spoke with said that there had never been any problems of any kind in those houses, that they were filled with "peaceful kids" who are politically active but entirely unthreatening and friendly. Posted below is the video of the scene, including various interviews, which convey a very clear sense of what is actually going on here.

In the house that had just been raided, those inside described how a team of roughly 25 officers had barged into their homes with masks and black swat gear, holding large semi-automatic rifles, and ordered them to lie on the floor, where they were handcuffed and ordered not to move. The officers refused to state why they were there and, until the very end, refused to show whether they had a search warrant. They were forced to remain on the floor for 45 minutes while the officers took away the laptops, computers, individual journals, and political materials kept in the house. One of the individuals renting the house, an 18-year-old woman, was extremely shaken as she and others described how the officers were deliberately making intimidating statements such as "Do you have Terminator ready?" as they lay on the floor in handcuffs. The 10 or so individuals in the house all said that though they found the experience very jarring, they still intended to protest against the GOP Convention, and several said that being subjected to raids of that sort made them more emboldened than ever to do so.

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/

Leila Abu-Saba

I'm becoming so cynical and disheartened that I wonder -why would BushCo bother trying to distract us? Nobody with power would have paid attention anyway; the media would not have taken up the issue - too complicated and boring. Bush & Co. have managed to gut the Constitution and our laws before without anybody complaining in a way that would hamper them.

Lefties and the ACLU can complain all we like but the mainstream media laughs at us.

It's like the 9/11 conspiracy theory, it posits too much intelligence, forethought and capacity to plan on the part of the conspirators. Hell, if they can maneuver all that, why didn't they plant WMD? etc.

But it's instructive and I am grateful for the alert on this matter. I would have missed the Lichtblau article otherwise.

I feel sorry for myself that I am so cynical about my country. I feel sorry for my country.

J

All,

another area where bush co. are ramrodding things they know the public does not want is through federal regulations for various taxpayer-paid-for federal agencies. the only way to find out about it is through keen oversight/review of the daily federal register. that is the only way to see some of the not-for-the-better changes bush co. is trying to do as an end-run around congress and the citizenry. bush co. in 'their minds' believe that dictatorship is their 'inherent right'.

ServingPatriot

Welcome Maureen,

Thanks for posting this. I've long felt that the first order of business that a resurgent Congressional branch should take up is the revocation of the AUMF and clear restoration of the Congress' role in war making.

Its disappointing (very!) that neither candidate, members of the upper house, discuss this part of the dysfunction in the Federal govt. Not surprising tho'. One wonders whether either candidate would willingly renounce the imperial powers gained by the Bush Administration over the past 7 years?

Wait a moment, I know one most certainly will not give up that power. But will the other?? Seems that the imperial party should keep this in mind when assiduously avoiding the confrontation needed to restore Constitutional balance.

SP

SP

jon

This should have been plainly obvious years ago, when Bush was yammering on about being a 'war president'. I had specific meaning and importance to him, and the press and the public essentially ignored the implications. Bush obviously believes that being in military conflicts permits him to abridge and suspend any laws or requirements of his office. Not that this should surprise anyone.

It would be bad enough that someone with wisdom and capability arrogated dictatorial, autocratic powers. In the waning days of this government, it is clear that they are idiots and incompetents, single minded and dangerous.

I am not convinced that they will willingly relinquish power. We must be concerned for the coming alerts, military adventures, provocations and other efforts to affect the election, endangering our remaining civil liberties, and placing our personnel and military at still greater risk.

Maureen Lang

Leila,

My understanding of it from the Lichtblau article is that this language is buried in a proposal (& already echoed by Rep. Lamar Smith(R) in a measure introduced on the House floor) having to do w/hearing appeals by Gitmo detainees. The ramifications of Congress affirming such language could be huge for the next Fed administration on several levels, as BushCo tries to set in concrete the justifications for its foreign policy blunders/other nefarious actions of the past 8 yrs.

Arun

Dear ServingPatriot:

Its disappointing (very!) that neither candidate, members of the upper house, discuss this part of the dysfunction in the Federal govt. Not surprising tho'. One wonders whether either candidate would willingly renounce the imperial powers gained by the Bush Administration over the past 7 years?

You will notice that the Republican House and Senate contingents have marched in lockstep with this President. Yeah, Arlen Specter makes noises, but he always votes with the Administration. Only the Ron Paul wing of the Republican Party has mounted an opposition.

Until we see sizeable numbers of Republicans protesting to their representatives (or until after the elections) Democrats are not going to take up these issues - it is a proven losing proposition.

The truth is that constitutional issues require bipartisan support; one hand cannot clap.

David W.

So, this bill is an attempt to codify that 'we are at war, and have always been at war with Oceana.' Now that the 9/11 koolaid has worn off, it looks like the Bush cabal is getting nervous about its shaky legal footing in the postmortem period, where Bush will not be able to pass laws by fiat.

The wild card are the Democratic enablers, led by DINO Nancy Pelosi--while these people would apparently have no incentive to help Bushco cover up their crimes, I also thought the same about Telecom Immunity.

zanzibar

The Permanent War Bill that provides the War President permanent War Powers!

How fitting. And we can be sure that Democrats will rush to provide cover and pass the necessary legislation to protect their own complicity and desire for such powers. Maybe they should add language that the War President can indefinitely suspend Congress at his whim which hopefully would at least reduce the burden on taxpayers.

ChrisH

". . . the ramifications of Congress affirming such language could be huge for the next Fed administration on several levels, as BushCo tries to set in concrete the justifications for its foreign policy blunders/other nefarious actions of the past 8 yrs." . . .

I wonder if this is also a means to protect oneself from the reaches of the Int'l Criminal Court (The Hague)?

Mad Dogs

Ta Maureen!

As bmaz pointed out, this also bears all the hallmarks of Karl Rove to again politically corner the Democrats this election season into either voting for this bill and its odious abuses, or be labeled immediately prior to the November elections, as once again, "soft on terrorism".

Surprise, surprise!

When have the Republicans not used the terrorism as a political cudgel against the Democrats?

And surprise, surprise! When have the Democrats not fallen to their knees in abject spinelessness to appease their Republican overseers?

Duncan Kinder

Congressional action or inaction, McCain or Obama victory, to the contrary notwithstanding the following, in substantial and significant measure, will be the case.

  • The "War on Terror" in substantial measure will continue.
  • "Wartime" measure inconsistent with civil liberties will occur.
  • Defense expenditures at Cold War levels will persist.
  • Having let the horse out of the barn door by approving such a large standing military, Congress will be in no position to curb the President even if it were inclined to do so.
  • All of the forgoing will be made possible by deficit borrowing from abroad.

Therefore, the only effective curb on these developments relates to the ability / willingness of foreign governments to continue such deficit financing.

Whether or not this financing will continue; this is the ball - not crackerjack resolutions from Reid / Pelosi - and those concerned with the civil liberties issues Col. Lang has stated in this post should keep their eyes on it.


Sidney O. Smith III

McCain-Cheney-Wurmser -- that’s the true Republican ticket for 2008.

Why the Cheney-Wurmser reference? Because if elected, McCain will attempt to execute a plan of war that is based upon the intent of the“Cheney-Wurmser option”.

For those who don’t know, the "Cheney-Wurmser option" was first reported in the fall of 07 (at SST, Steve Clemons’ blog and then in the Oct. 1, 2007 issue of Newsweek). Haaretz, to its great credit, also reported that “Cheney may have mulled pushing Israel to attack Iran”. A short quote from the Haaretz report:

“Newsweek Magazine reported Sunday that Vice President Richard Cheney may have considered a plan for Israeli missile strikes against an Iranian nuclear site in an effort to draw a military response from Iran, which could in turn spark a U.S. offensive against targets in the Islamic Republic.

Citing two unnamed sources the magazine called knowledgeable, the magazine quoted David Wurmser, until last month Cheney's Middle East advisor, as having told a small group of people that "Cheney had been mulling the idea of pushing for limited Israeli missile strikes against the Iranian nuclear site at Natanz - and perhaps other sites - in order to provoke Tehran into lashing out."

http://tinyurl.com/27zbvp

The findings of the 2007 NIE initially negated the Cheney-Wurmser option. Since then, the focus of the McCain-Cheney-Wurmser alliance has been to circumvent the findings of the 2007 NIE.

And the most recent proof that the Wurmser-Cheney option continues to unfold is in an article in today’s Jerusalem Post:

http://tinyurl.com/6kqucg

McCain is an integral part of the Cheney-Wurmser option, as one purpose of the McCain campaign is to negate the findings of the 2007 NIE. Check out this McCain ad.

http://tinyurl.com/67xnfr

This ad is a piece of war propaganda designed to circumvent the findings of the 2007 NIE. It is an example of what Sherman Kent warned us against, as it is evidence of US foreign policy disconnecting from reality and then “taking off from the wish”.

fnord

Thank you Homer for pointing out the story of the protesters. I have myself been at the recieving end of the police over here in Europe as a member of the anarcho-syndicalist group SAC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sveriges_Arbetares_Centralorganisation)
and have faced the dogs and batons and guns, the questions of what a solid man like me is doing with scum like this, seen friends been beaten up (they always picked the small ones for some doctrinal reason) etc.

It is an interesting fact that there seems to be a consensus among politicans of all stripes that the rights of the dissenters in the West are just not worth commenting on. If the democrats are going to make a stand against the creeping introduction of a US police-state, this might be one of the keys to grab onto. Bless Greenwald for the job he is doing, it is to be hoped that some establishment-politicos can see this issue as a good point to make a stand, and also to bring back a lot of the doubting left youth-vote to the Obama camp.

Maureen Lang

Mad Dogs-
Happy to see you too, and great, as always, to read your comments here.

Thx to everyone for your comments & insights/expansions on the post topic in this thread.

Duncan Kinder-
Flattered by your mistaking this post for one by my brother. I'm attributing it to this being my 1st piece here on SST, not anything stylistic (have done several posts for The Athenaeum btw). "Col. Lang" would definitely be an upgrade for me from the "chief cook & bottle washer" classification of my youth!

All-
Please take the time to read not just Eric Lichtblau's Sat. NYT article link, but the links for Raw Story, & particulary bmaz' post @ Emptywheel. The comments over @ the Emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler) blog are especially astute on this subject.

Walrus

I keep positing that America is moving toward an Orwellian police state because from where I sit, thousands of miles away, it appears quite clear.

All the tools of a police state have been created - torture, disappearance and incarceration indefinitely without trial, a secret police apparatus where anyone can be spied upon without a warrant, a complaisant and corrupt Congress and a (privatised) propaganda apparatus. The only thing missing are the thugs to terrorise the one to two percent of the population which is all that is necessary for the other Ninety-Eight percent to fall into line.

Whenever I advance an Orwellian scenario, the usual response is "Well we have the right to bear arms, and nobody is going to tread on me, and so on". I don't believe this is sufficient to prevent you from being oppressed.

You will of course maintain the trappings of Democracy, just like the Soviets did, but the reality is that you will be enchained.

The flow of American intellectual refugees into countries like Britain, Australia and Canada is going to be something to see...

Clifford Kiracofe

1. Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. Presumably he believes in our Constitution unlike the Bush Administration. If President, he could reverse what Bush has done.

Will he rise to the level of, say, Toussaint Louverture and liberate this republic from alien occupation and those promoting the present national security slave state?

2. Also, I dropped into the hopper in a different thread recently a notice from the Russian foreign intelligence service (SVR) concerning the death, at 101 years of age, of a top former spy: a certain Mikhail Mukasei [Zephyr]. Is our Attorney General any relation? Could explain his Stalinist attitude? Just curious.

The Russian spy's family was from Belarus and he operated for a time in the US in California/Los Angeles under diplomatic cover. Any SST reader in Belarus who could give details of the family?

" Mikhail Mukasei started his brilliant career in espionage during the Second World War, when he used his position as the Soviet vice-consul in Los Angeles to collect information on the threat posed to the Soviet Union by Japan."
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/2586348/Senior-Russian-spy-Mikhail-Mukasei-dies-aged-101.html

Anything in VENONA on Zephyr?
http://www.nsa.gov/venona/

Leila Abu-Saba

Walrus - my own 40-something brother-in-law began looking into emigrating five years ago. We talk about it at our house but feel that with our family obligations and ages we can't reasonably make the change.

However I'm wondering if we should try to access FIL's Canadian birth certificate somehow to get passports for our children...

Clifford Kiracofe

Walrus,

I'd recommend Sinclair Lewis' novel "It Can't Happen Here" which features a Fascist takeover of the United States. Prophetic.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_Can't_Happen_Here

At a more esoteric level is the novel by Woodrow Wilson's advisor "Col." Edward Mandel House. (the "Col." title was a political one given him by a governor of Texas; he was NEVER in the US Army.) House's novel "Philip Dru: Administrator" has a military man become the dictator ("Administrator") of the US.

Also, a friend of mine recently showed me a novel by H.L. Hunt, the Texas oilman, written about 1960 or so. Entitled "Alpaca" it seemed to have oddball political ideas, rule by the rich sort of thing...plutocracy.

The Hunt family, of course, is a big player in the radical Right in the US. Supporters of the Council for National Policy (CNP) for which see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_for_National_Policy

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Council_for_National_Policy

If you do not have time for novels, just watch FOX news and and see it unfold in real time.

As I am semi-retired, I was thinking of New Zealand as they seem to have some excellent fishing there although the surf fishing in Australia could be mighty attractive as well. Recently found an old copy of Wal Hardy's "The Saltwater Angler" about Australia and New Zealand.

mlaw230

It distresses me greatly that these commentators would be, apparently seriously, considering emigration.

This neo-con thing, the ideologue/authoritarian bent, is nothing new. It is a virus that periodically overcomes us, until a Katrina, or some witness asks of his interrogator "at long last, Sir have you no decency," and at that moment the fever breaks and after awhile we get back to first principles.

In my view the worst thing that happened was the change to media anti-trust rules which effectively limited non corporate views on the mainstream media. To use the hackneyed phrase, it was the "perfect storm," yet on the bright side, the market has spoken and intelligent people no longer get their news exclusively or even predominantly from the mainstream media, that monopoly has been broken. Unfortunately, electoral policy relies a great deal on what uninformed not so intelligent people think.

In addition we allowed basic things, like the Bill of Rights, to be confused with hopes and desires. We have lost the ability to be outraged. This will be painful but I think we are going to remember just what fundamental rights are.

Have a little faith, we will reinvent ourselves, and if we don't, New Zealand is not going to be far enough away to avoid the wirlwind.

William R. Cumming

Interesting that an essentially lawless administration is now trying to seek legal cover at the very last moment. It should be denied otherwise the intial Congressional mistake will be compounded many times.

McGee

One thing I fear and think about a lot is our response to a terrorist attack between now and the elections. I'll be surprised if there isn't one attempted - either on US soil (difficult, but not impossible) or against US interests elsewhere in the world (more likely) - no one wants McCain to win more than al Qaeda. His election guarantees four more years of successful recruitment. On the other hand an Obama win could be very damaging - attacks against fellow muslims in Iraq and elsewhere have resulted in a backlash of sorts which is gaining currency in at least parts of the Muslim world. It will be hard to continue to paint America as the Enemy of all things Muslim if it proves capable of electing a black president with Muslim roots. But given the state of our citizenry's political intellect and our media's herd instincts, I have little doubt about the result of another attack. It would sweep the Maverick and the Hockey Mom into office for four more years of incredibly stupid and counter-productive foreign policy from which we might never recover. Hope I'm very wrong about this....and I'll very interested in what the rest of you think. Perhaps I'm being too paranoid?

ServingPatriot

McGee,

You present a valid concern (...[spectacular] terrorist attack...[before] the elections."). I'm not sure that the Maverick would wind up in charge as a result.

After Katrina; after Iraq; after the continued freedom of Bin-Laden; after the criminal disclosure of a counter-proliferation spy; after the steady drizzle of unending pattern of incompetence, greed, and profiteering, the failure of the current government to protect "your security" would probably result in a complete popular and electoral landslide to the Dems. (And one would hope, a complete, criminal investigation and accountability trials for the perpetrators.) The "security" pony worked in 2002, but 2006 demonstrated that it no longer sells with those the powerful consider "the rubes."

Now, using a "security event" to bring the full weight of the extra-constitutional, security state imperial executive powers into play? In that case, your paranoia might be justified. But... the "rubes" know they've been massively manipulated these past few years, but will they fight to hold an election in the "dark days" after an attack? They did in NYC after 11 September (to Guliani's dismay).

You might wonder if the "rubes" will fight against heavily armed mercenaries who carry out the government's orders to establish "peace & security"? We did once some 232 years ago and continued to do since 1776 (e.g., labor strikes, urban riots).

Will the military carry out Presidential orders to establish "security" inside the U.S. "homeland"? Sadly, not only will they, but some of those in uniform will do so with gusto, despite the reservations of many within the ranks. Will those in Federal service stand by and allow unconstitutional actions continue? Probably, given the history of the past 7 years and the steady placement of the ruling party's acolytes into positions of authority, responsibility and decision making.

So, it once again will be up to the people themselves, in thier localities, to say enough is enough and to take action to right the ship of state. And given today's economy, rampant corruption and obvious incompetence, I think the People have seen enough, learned just enough (thank goodness for the internets!), and are all too aware of just how thin the thread is for their personal life, liberty and pursuit of happiness to permit the takeover the small authoritarian minority wishes.

And as for fleeing? This patriot will stay and fight for his country. Against all enemies, foreign or domestic.

SP

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