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14 September 2008


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Dave of Maryland

The next president should put the VP back into the box.

For that to happen, Congress needs to pass laws specifically prohibiting what Bush did for Cheney. Before those laws can be drafted, there must be wide-ranging Congressional inquiries. For that, there must first be effective Congressional leadership. Wake me up when that happens. No, wait. Why can't we, the Citizens of this once-great country, do something for ourselves? Why? The election is shaping up to be a sham, but are we powerless?

The idea that McCain or Obama can rescind Bush's enabling acts is a mirage. Cheney was a product of the Nixon administration. Cheney's administration doubtless harbors the seeds of more mischief in future administrations. Congressional action is the only hope we have, and I doubt any president will view such restrictions favorably. Of the Balkans of 1938, the visiting surrealist once said, The road is wider than long.


My god. And this is the stuff WE KNOW about. I can imagine the stuff we don't know about.

Not "back in the box". Put the VP IN "the box".

Patrick Lang

Dave of M

Just for you I amended my post.

The vice president has no constitutional or statutory function or power other than as presiding officer of the senate.

No congressional action is necessary to restore the status quo ante. pl



Perhaps no congressional activity is necessary to restore the "Office" of the Vice-President to the status quo ante.

There can be no doubt, however, that Congressional action to right the wrongs of the current occupants of the OVP (and their enabler) CAN and MUST be taken. That action is called IMPEACHMENT. Is there any doubt left that the Vice President, his Chief of Staff (besides the one convicted of perjury), the President, his Chief of Staff and many, many other political partisans installed into government positions of authority and responsibility committed "high crimes and misdemeanors" against the American people and republic?

Complicit or not with what the Administration did (and briefed), Congress' continued failure to act in their Constitutionally proscribed manner seems itself a crime against the "sovereigns" of our Nation... the People.

My G-d, when will Congress DO SOMETHING??? After the Executive puts them in the hooskow? It would seem that the example of 1930s Germany would indicate that its a bit too late then...



Will the next US President be free of the Addington/Yoo/Cheney schemes? How will these surveillance programs continue without a knowledgable backer within the new adminstration?
Or will there be extralegal groups assigned the neocon projects too 'valuable' to be left to any succeeding administration?
It is not the VP that concerns me, it's the authoritarian conspiracy.


Jane Mayer wrote a very good article about http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/07/03/060703fa_fact1>David Addington in The New Yorker in 2006.


PL: Executive Order 13292 gives the Vice President fairly broad authority to classify information as secret. This authority will be retained by the incoming VP unless one of three things happens, either the incoming president revokes the executive order, congress passes a law overriding the executive order with a veto proof majority, or the courts strike the executive order down as unconstitutional.

I agree with DoM that Congress has to pass laws repealing and forbidding investing the Vice Presidency with these kinds of powers. If the President reverses this executive order, the precedent would be set that the Vice President has whatever authority the President cares to invest in the office. The courts have only overturned two executive orders in history according to Wikipedia, so they're unlikely to provide relief in this case.

Congress overturning this executive order would also be good for the long term health of American democracy. First, because it would mean Congress starting to act as an effective check on the power of the executive for the first time in 8 years. The 'Imperial Presidency' could not have existed without a Congress willing to allow the President to legislate by executive order.

Second, it's been noted many times in this blog that people have skewed perceptions of the office of President. And I think those skewed perceptions are the other half of what allows various administrations to grab power. Congress acting to reaffirm the constitutional duties of the office of President and Vice President might help to correct this perception problem. At least enough to make it harder for future presidents to appeal to public misconceptions of their job to justify expansion of their powers.

I suspect this is all moot however. If McCain wins I doubt he'll have reversing Bush's decisions as a high priority, and the current Democratic leadership in Congress has never had the stomach for a fight with the President. Even if Obama wins I doubt the Dems will suddenly grow enough of a spine to start taking proper corrective action against the excesses of the Bush administration.


The VP's newly created powers cannot be put back into the box absent a desire to hold the "evil doers" accountable and make an attempt to explain what they actually pulled.

That means that it was necessary to impeach Cheney and have these stories placed into evidence, and hear what Cheney and his creature Addington have to say about it.

Before the senate.

Before the cameras.

Before the country.

The Dems cravenly refused to do it, the Repubs vehemently supported the evildoers, and do to this very day---these stories are literally meaningless to them, except to increase their admiration for Cheney and his creature.

Too late now. The box has been broken. And hardly anyone cares.

William R. Cumming

When do you think the Bushies will realize that Cheney and Addington destroyed his (GWB) historical legacy? The legacy of course before that destruction was that GWB knew what he was doing. Or perhaps just documents not malfeasance, or misfeasance but nonfeasance. Failure to act in the face of facts demanding action?
Also in one remarkable case in the early 80's Congress voided an Executive Order in a bill signed by the President into law. The EO concerned the Strategic Defense Stockpile and Congress believed that only by statutorily rescinding the EO could it get the Executive Branch to address the policy issues raised by the passage of time. Only example of that I know of now. There is a recent trend in the federal courts to rule that EO's that are not derived from a specific statutory grant of authority are void ab initio [from the beginning] or voidable [depending on facts].


There must be a reason for the spinelessness of Congress, and their inability to rein in Bush and Cheney.

I will thus ask the obvious question: "Is it possible that the Bush Administration has used it's enhanced or illegal intelligence gathering powers to garner enough personal data to Blackmail the majority of Congress?" It's the simplest explanation I can think of for their inaction.

I know this is a monstrous question, and I'd like to receive a conclusive answer in the negative.

Please bear in mind that German military historians after WWII similarly could not understand the apparent "luck" of the Allies during WWII, and invented all sorts of reasons for it, including the supposition of a high level spy in the OKW.

Train loads of German military histories had to be pulped when the simple explanation - Enigma - was revealed around 1975.


Palin exists to keep the power in the box of the Vice Presidency.
While the press, the pundits, and the entertainers twitter along discussing irrelevancies about the upcoming election, it seems to me that we have a whole new paradigm of government emerging, encored by the operations of Cheney, Addington & Co. This new paradigm is based upon a mastery of intelligence information by which those few with access to the information can know virtually everything their opposition says and does. With the passage of the telco immunity provisions, there is no longer even a possibility that some lawyer somewhere who gets a request for electronic surveillance to be willing to raise any challenge other than to quibble over the fees to be paid for the services. The circle of technological intelligence information is now nearly complete. As with Maliki in Iraq, those “in the know” can know essentially everything about any target. I have always wondered if someone in the Office of the Vice President is in charge of knowing every hiccup Pelosi utters.
Under this paradigm of a secret, shadow government, those few who are “in the loop” can blackmail, cajole, and finagle a complete continuation of their power. This secret system of surveillance power is a mortal threat to any hope that any sort of free society can remain in the U.S. The threat raised by the secret surveillance cabal is far more of an existential threat to the principles of our Republic than any terrorist or faded military power anywhere in the world.
Now, those who are really in control of the Republican Machine, have, in the new Vice Presidential nominee, a perfect tool for their continuation of their extra-legal government that has, and will, continue to reside in the Office of the Vice President.
Sarah Palin is a very intelligent, cooperative, and malleable politician. No one watching the Palin interviews can objectively believe Palin has any knowledge or beliefs that can guide her as the President hen the doddering career campaigner ceases to function. The limits of her knowledge are obviously limited to her mastery of the conservative Republican Catechism. Essentially, she appears to be a completely blank slate ready for inscriptions. There is no indication from her education or slim prior government service that she has ever deeply thought about the pressing issues facing our Republic. Her experience is in mastering the advertising lingo of a Chamber of Commerce cheerleader, promoter politician—in effect she is a master of spinning whatever position seems popular as a social meme. She can be effectively manipulated by her handlers to spout whatever her handlers believe the electorate wishes to hear. She has already proven a savior for McCain who is unable to excite anyone.
Palin is a great invention of the Republican masters. Being a blank slate and also being very willing and desirous of being in power, Palin is subject to being taught only that which her handlers wish her to learn and accomplish. If she had not already existed, those who own Cheney, Addington & Co. would have had to invent her. She is their Eliza Doolittle, ready, willing, and capable of mastering the public persona they need to continue their tenure in power where they control some of the most important governmental functions, secretly and out of the realm of oversight and accountability to the people.
The questions that should be being asked are who her teachers are and what is her curriculum? The Gibson interviews show she is a very quick study. She will learn and speak only that which “They” want her to speak. She is smart enough to know she is not self-made in her position.
Has Palin made a Faustian deal to continue the secret government? Or, will Pygmalion someday assert her own independence. The secret shadow government certainly will not simply go home in January voluntarily. Unfortunately, McCain really seems willing just to go along as long as he has the trappings of the power of the President. Based upon the management style of his campaign, McCain has little real interest in governing. His interest is in the title and its perks. Delegation of the decision-making is OK with him.
We are rapidly moving toward a situation where President John McCain sits twiddling in the White House and the handlers of Vice President Palin continue to run the country in an ever increasingly authoritarian mode. Some readers of this blog might think that outcome is good, but I think it will be a disaster. Secret, authoritarian governments always have failed their people and brought on great suffering and deprivations.
So, the most important question in this election is who is really in charge of the McCain/Palin ticket and are they traitors? Will we have a government of the people or of a cabal? Some wise journalist or citizen should be asking Palin and McCain, “Who are your teachers and what curriculum are they teaching you?”


"I can see Russia from my house!"

(Tina Fey/Sarah Palin, 9-14-08)


A friend in Cleveland, a Mr. Stress, sent me the following recent nightmare: Stress writes:

Subject: what a nightmare

Then brings Cheney back as VP.
Hand me the razor.

They will have to add a new school class:

Patrick Lang


I am "impressed" by how conspiratorially minded a lot of you are and how much more pessimistic you are than I.

- I never implied or meant to imply that there are an especially large percentage of racists in the South. Far from it. The mythology of the North, especially the Deep North, has sought to indoctrinate us all with that idea but it is not so. I listed a number of areas OUTSIDE THE SOUTH where I have found racism to be strong in thinly hidden opinion, but that listing was not exclusive. New England, California, these places could easily be similarly listed. "Appalachia" as I used it was meant to mean non-Southern Appalachia.

- Some of you want to compare the position of POTUS to the CEO or president of a business. Wrong! POTUS does not play bureaucratic games with the departments of the Executive Branch. He has no need to. His relations with the departments are directive, not political. POTUS himself is a political figure, but that status is refelcted in party politcs and not in the essentially command relationships within the Executive Branch. From the point of civil servants and military officers, however senior he IS a king so long as his instructions appear to be legal.

- The cabinet in the United States is not a committee of equals. In fact it is not a committee at all. The cabinet officers are the presidents appointees and once they are approved by the senate they are altogether his subordinates and he can dismiss them at will. Once again, his directives to the cabinet secretaries must appear to be legal. If they do not, then POTUS himself is liable and may experience a potential revolt against his authority such as the one that almost happened at NSA and which Addington acted to suppress.

- The career functionaries of the departments of the Executive Branch do not perform their tasks as individuals. Even the most senior of them is vulnerable to an internal perception that what they direct (or obey) is illegal. For that reason Haydon sent his GC and IG to DoJ to find out if the TSP was LEGAL. This why Addington was so violently hostile to their enquiry. If the collective seniors at NSA had decided that the TSP was illegal, then Haydon would have been vulnerable to having them; charge him with a crime, go to the press, stage a slow down, or go to the congress.

- The reason Addington did all this in secret, dividing up knowledge of TSP into tiny little "lane" determined bits is that he and Cheney knew that if discussion became general and knowledge widespread within the Executive Branch then the brazen illegality would have caused a revolt.

- Contrary to what some of you seem to think, it is vital to confine officals, both elected and appointed to their LEGAL authority. If you do not, then government becomes effectively omnipotent and without restraints on its actions.

- Government is not business. It is nothing like business. It has no "bottom line." Officials are rewarded, not with money, but with sops to ego. They are always fearful of being involved in something that will disgrace them. This is a powerful tool that should be used to keep them in line. Corruption for money is a disease of lobbyists and congressmen. "Bureaucrats"as you call them seek power and position for its own sake. pl


I think the elevation of the VP to something like the Pres' point-man on various policy matters essentially began with Al Gore. Before 1992, most VP picks were products of ticket balancing. Since Pres and VP nominees were entirely different persons appealing to completely different demographics, there was very little that they could effectively cooperate on.

In this dimension, I'm curious about how both nominees will turn out to be. In case of the Democrats, I think Biden was a classic ticket balancing choice. I don't see much delegation of powers to the VP, should Obama win. I'm curious about the Republican ticket, though. On the one hand, Palin is clearly a ticket balancing act also--in order to shore up McCain's appeal among the social conservative wing of the Republican Party. But given all the concerns over McCain's health and far greater centrality of the social conservatives among the Republican coalition, there may be opportunities for Palin to exercise more influence than Biden.

Regardless, I do think VP's role will be much more curtailed in the next administration. Neither tickets are made up of "soul mates" who can naturally cooperate with each other (although, if McCain got Lieberman, the story would have been quite different). Thank God for that....


Jerusalem Post, Sept. 14, 2008

http://tinyurl.com/5g93r5>Israel slated to buy 1,000 'bunker-buster' bombs from US

The US Department of Defense has notified Congress of a potential sale to Israel of 1,000 smart bombs capable of penetrating underground bunkers, which would likely be used in the event of a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Two Royal Airforce men...

Two Royal Airforce men checking SBU-39 missiles attached to an F-15 fighter jet.
Photo: Courtesy
Slideshow: Pictures of the week

The notification to Congress was made over the weekend by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the branch of the Pentagon responsible for evaluating foreign military sales. Congress has 30 days to object to the deal.


Col., you are right when you wrote, “Contrary to what some of you seem to think, it is vital to confine officials, both elected and appointed to their LEGAL authority. If you do not, then government becomes effectively omnipotent and without restraints on its actions.” Your observation, “The reason Addington did all this in secret, dividing up knowledge of TSP into tiny little "lane" determined bits is that he and Cheney knew that if discussion became general and knowledge widespread within the Executive Branch then the brazen illegality would have caused a revolt.” is also accurate.

It is precisely because of the danger of a revolt that Cheney, Addington, & Co. did operate in secret. It also appears that they are able to so operate because the POTUS has delegated the power to CA&C. Bush seems comfortable reaping the prestige or his office while letting others succeed in a coup where the independent Office of the Vice President operates a shadow government outside the “lanes” of legal authority.

Certainly I am pessimistic, but for good reason. A substantial infrastructure capable of supporting a real tyranny has been established and perfected over the Bush years, boosted by the fear of the American People arising out of 9/11. While 9/11 has functioned as a justification for the development of the surveillance infrastructure, it can be well documented that the legal basis for the Patriot Act was actually drafted before Bush was sworn in. The formerly “illegal” surveillance, now legalized, began BEFORE 9/11.

I am glad you are "’impressed’ by how conspiratorially minded a lot of you are and how much more pessimistic you are than I.” The fear and belief in a cabal is legitimate and should be discussed.

Walrus’s question at 3:58 p.m. is a legitimate one. It is now possible by tapping cell phones, telephones, computers, and other devices, literally to listen in on and to watch almost anyone anytime any where and to sift all of the data very easily into a usable dossier with little human intervention. One can probably assume that almost anything anyone wants anytime is available by using a computer terminal interface. It is not unreasonable to assume that such an interface exists in the Office of the Vice President. Our currently existing and operating surveillance system makes the Stasi and the KGB look like rank amateurs.

Has anyone in open congressional committee hearing ever asked anyone in the OVP whether their own communications are monitored by the Executive? If they did, one can imagine the answer would never be truthfully answered. We desperately need some whistleblowers!

Over the whole scope of history, governments and nations have really been run by very small groups of people acting at the very top of the governments. The whole history of Britain from the beginning of the Enlightenment to the present has been the struggle between having a government of a few or a government of the people. Nothing has changed in American history. Many are loyal to Cheney & Co. and not Bush.

In fact, America is run by a very small group of people. Many are loyal to Cheney & Co. and not Bush. The others in the government, following the American ethic of “do your best” work every day doing their jobs very well and not asking questions or stepping outside their individual channels of responsibility.

This ethic has been one of American’s greatest strengths because we are a creative people who can do even the most difficult jobs capably. It is also one of its greatest weaknesses because it enables the creation of vast, compartmentalized enterprises that are capable of great crimes. The growing surveillance infrastructure is a shining example of the problem. Thousands upon thousands of individual, corporations, local governments and organizations are each working on their individual projects to perfect surveillance to “keep us safe’. Phones are tapped. GIS systems are perfect. Cameras are put on thousands of streets and in thousands of buildings. Emails are sifted and recorded. Regional actions centers are established to bring all of the information together. Laws are passed to limit access. Yet, few working on the projects think about how all of this is subject to the corruption of a few who are able to marshal this infrastructure to their own purposes—like a mythical OVP with the terminals to the information and a willingness to use it to centralized its power.

Under the Bush Administration, we have the beginnings of a new pattern. Bush is the first American President I know of, with the exceptions of Wilson and Reagan during their last months of their illnesses, when substantial functions of governance were actually not under the control of persons in the background. To the extent that decisions were made in the OVP, Bush is abdicated as leader. Cheney was correct in his impression that if the knowledge of the extent of Bush’s abdication and toleration of the brazen illegality were known, there would have been a revolt.

Certainly many believe that Cheney has a cabal in operation, but it is unpleasant and inconvenient for anyone in a position of national leadership to admit it. If the Congress explicitly knew that Cheney, not Bush was in charge and it was an explicit, rather than a tacit, understanding of the public, the history of the last eight years might have been substantially different. ( For a interesting discussion of tacit versus explicit understanding of political reality, see, A Tacit Dimension, Michael Polanyi) An explicit understanding of the criminal activity in the OVP might have triggered an impeachment.

Now, following the Bush (hidden Cheney) pattern of governance, we have the McCain/Palin ticket. McCain is old and while he may claim competence, his real resume shows a compliant follower of the program of those in charge. It is entirely possible and likely that McCain will do very little real leading, A look at his campaign staff, Wikipedia search “McCain campaign staff” will show that his handlers are the PNAC people who have been so subversive of open government. Add the blank slate of Palin to the passive and infirm McCain, together with the worst of the PNAC true believers being her handlers, all enabled by a massive secret and unregulated technological surveillance infrastructure, and a hackable and fixable election system and you have a perfect storm for the destruction of the Republic.

On top of this, we have an electorate that believes the liars and believes that the voting system actually counts their votes the way they were cast. The media is a farce. They quibble over irrelevancies such as a pig’s lipstick while the tide of tyranny rushes in.

Congress is weak and afraid of its shadow. That shadow may be blackened by the knowledge that "they" have surveilled them and "they" do not like opposition. Since the surveillence is secret, even if it is conducted properly, it engenders fear because its scope and power in unknown. The secret surveillenc is a cancer on liberty. No society can be free without a feeling of privacy.

Will the elections be fixed. Will Palin be the malleable and deceptively attractive face of the cabal? Is the Republic really over?

I am afraid of my government for the first time in my life.

Ken Roberts

An interesting discussion. One should assume that whatever is technically possible is being done; it is the nature of men (and women) in organizations.

Col Lang seems to me correct in his thesis that the only way to prevent such deviations is to strictly require legal authorities for acts of public servants.

Regarding the remark by someone "I am afraid of my government for the first time in my life" - that is perhaps partly the point of some of the abuses becoming public.

The "land of the free and home of the brave" has always seemed to put the causality backwards - rather, to be free, men must first be brave.

Best wishes from the "true north, strong and free". And yes, we have our own problems, and much not to be proud of. But we work on it. Like washing dishes, politics is never completed - there is always something new needing cleanup.


tomas del sol

per jonst's comment--the VP should be "in the dock!"

tomas del sol

being a former Lake County resident, I would second anything Mr. Stress has to say!



Instead of your proposal of Al Gore as the Vice President who twisted the role of that office into nefarious ways, I would strongly suggest that that "distinction" belongs to George H.W. Bush. He was most likely the unseen mover behind the whole Iran-Contra affair. His long association with spookdom as a former Director of the CIA equipped him with the knowledge base and contacts to create and administer a shadow intelligence operation outside of the regular channels. The examples that were set by this operation, in both its successes as well as in its vulnerabilities, were surely studied by people such as Cheney and Addington as they devised their own latter day form of extraconstitutional action. They clearly devised improvements in the stovepiping of intelligence, thereby neutralizing the countervailing influences of the institutionalized intelligence professionals. They also worked diligently to preserve operational security through compartmentalization and through the focused utilization of the loci of power entrusted into the hands of "true believers" such as Douglas Feith in the Office of Special Plans.

But Daddy Bush's tenure as Vice President clearly was the paradigm for the expansion of the secret government. It's yet another sin to lay at the feet of the Bush family, traitors to the Republic that that family has proven to be, their treacheries going back at least to the pro-fascist machinations of Prescott Bush. May they all burn in Hell.


An excerpt from page 465 of the "Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran/Contra Affair" (Section II The Minority Report The Minority Views Of Mr. Cheney, ....), as well as the ISBN, etc., lies below. My attention was brought to it by mcjoan at the dailykos.

Read it and weep and then get ready to grumble ....

"To the extent that the Constitution and laws are read narrowly, as Jefferson wished, the Chief Executive will on occasion feel duty bound to assert monarchical notions of prerogative that will permit him to exceed the law."

Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran/Contra Affair
By Lee H. Hamilton Daniel K. Inouye, Lee H. Hamilton, Daniel K. Inouye, United States Published by DIANE Publishing, 1995 ISBN 0788126024, 9780788126024

different clue

I can think of two other reasons why the Democrats in
Congress were so unwilling or afraid to stop Cheney/Bush on some of these key abuses. After 9/11 but before the Patriot Act vote...in fact during the runup to that vote, anthrax was mailed to the offices of two Democratic Senators (Daschle and Leahy) who were possibly opposed to that Bill. The anthrax was at the very least intended as a threat and a warning: whoever sent it has more and will send it
again if they are crossed too often or severely.

As to Pelosi in particular, wasn't she one of the so-called Gang Of Eight (4 Representatives, 4 Senators) who were briefed on the torture and abuse programs being run at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraid, Bhagram, and elsewhere? And
wouldn't her silent acceptance of them make her an accomplice-after-the-fact
if those tortures and abuses
were found to be War Crimes?
So it was in her interest to
make sure that Cheney and Bush were never impeached because if they became vulnerable to action for their crimes, Pelosi would be equally vulnerable for her silent support for those
same crimes. So Pelosi was protecting Bush and Cheney in order to protect herself.

It is hard to make a President or a Vice President keep his actions legal when the Congress is led by persons who are afraid of being "anthraxinated" if they try or, even worse; if Congress is led by people (like Pelosi?) who actively or passively supported the illegal behavior?

Perhaps we should study how the Occupied Peoples of Warsaw Pact Europe kept culture and politics alive under Communist Rule. Perhaps in particular, we should study how Solidarity leaders and activists stayed
in touch with eachother during the time of Jaruzelski's Martial Law. Perhaps those who wish to be
leaders or activists should learn about non-electronic non-electric hard-to-spy-on means of passing information
and messages around. Notes in hollow dog collars, on the legs of homing pigeons, etc.; as paranoid and silly as that sounds.

anna missed

Mr.Stress, the no-neck harp playing bluesman, of Brick Cottage, Euclid Tavern fame? I have all the intel in my files.


Forget the grand vision -- McCain/Palin cannot be allowed to get in, period.
Just look at the personal dynamics of McCain and Palin. She will push him so frikn'g hard that he'll be forced to retire or die. Cheney is throughly corrupt but he still values competency (for the wrong goals, yes but). Palin, however, will be the bad queen -- no amount of boot licking or suckup will satisfy her. Bush was bad enough playing around with that damn cake as Katrina hit NOLA but Palin will be just off the scale. Rove, I believe, has only just started to understand the danger -- look for more negative comment from him about McCain. Interesting, we finally have found someone that Rove is scared of.

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