Archive for the ‘bill of rights’ Category

What happens to the Republican Party after the election?

November 2, 2008

What happens to the Republican Party after the election?

A vital opposition party being essential in a two-party system, the fate of the Republican Party will deserve almost as much attention as the activities of the newly dominant Democratic Party.

  1. Collapse of the Republican Party
  2. Defectors from the Party
  3. Door #1:  Purge the Party’s membership, keeping only the faithful
  4. Door #2:  reflection and rebuilding
  5. A historical note on the two Party system

1.  Collapse of the Republican Party

After a quarter-century in power, to varying degrees, the Republican Party not only faces defeat but disintegration, political and intellectual.  The Administrations of the two Bushes have ripped the Party from its modern foundation forged by Barry Goldwater and William Buckley in the 1960’s.  A massive tax increase and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 under Bush Sr., the latter of the largest expansions of Federal power for decades — until Bush Jr.  Bush Jr’s contempt for civil liberties (other than gun control), massive spending and deficits (a Republican tradition since Reagan), massive expansion of government power, pro-open borders, and enthusiasm for foreign wars. 

McCain’s erratic political history — spun as being a “maverick” — gave few signs of change to this mess, other than his steadfast enthusiasm for foreign wars.

As a result the party has almost no doctrinal coherence — what does it stand for?  The only strong, consistent policy is opposition to abortion — a long-term aspect of its platform that has over decades has had little impact on public policy.  Probably because of the strong public consensus for a position between the extreme views held by the two major parties.

Politically the party has alienated many of its core constituencies.  McCain’s long-held contempt for the “religious right”.  Bush Jr’s and McCain’s strong support for open borders –opposing one of the most strongly held beliefs of the party core.  Most of all, Bush Jr’s disastrous management of the domestic economy and our foreign wars.

 

Note:  before commenting that we have won in Iraq, please explain what we have “won” — in terms of American national objectives.

2.  Defectors from the Party

A tangible indication of the Party’s internal weakness is the defection of so many conservatives from McCain-Palin ticket.  This has few parallels in American history.  Here is a partial list of well-known conseratives or Republicans (distinct but overlapping categories) who have expressed serious concerns about Gov Palin’s fitness as a potential President — some to the point of outright support for Obama.

  1. Christopher Buckley (source)
  2. David Frum and Kathleen Parkerat National Review Online.
  3. Peggy Noonan (President Reagan’s speechwriter) at the Wall Street Journal.
  4. Colin Powell.
  5. Kenneth Adelman, long-time diplomat under several Republican administrations (source; bio).
  6. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and former Securities and Exchange Commissioner William Donaldson (source).
  7. Douglas Kmiec, diplomat, long-time conservative (source; bio).
  8. Lawrence Eagleburger, Sec of State under Bush Sr. and whose endorsement is often cited by McCain, speaking on NPR (AP story, recording) (bio).  Later, his walkback (quote here; video here).
  9. Ken Duberstein, President Reagan’s Chief of Staff, on CNN (bio).

How will the Republican Party’s core react?

3.  Door #1:  Purge the Party’s membership, keeping only the faithful

Door #1 is to purge all but the faithful remnant.  Key Republicans are already digging holes for the stakes and gathering firewood.  Two examples follow.

Sarah Palin’s Future“, Fred Barnes (Executive Editor), Weekly Standard, 27 October 2008 — “Alaska’s most valuable resource.”  Excerpt:

Palin, by the way, is unsure about her ultimate role in national politics even if McCain wins, but it’s bound to be more complicated if he loses.

“I don’t know what kind of role the Republican party would want me to play,” she told me. “In the past, I have not been one to be considered for anything by the hierarchy of the party. Certainly not in my state. In some sense, I ran against my party.”

Palin remains skeptical of Republicans. “I would love to promote the party ideals if we’re going to live out the ideals and maybe allow other American voters to understand what the principles of the party are,” she says. “We’ve got to be assured we have enough people in the party who will live out those ideals and it’s not just rhetoric. Otherwise, I’d be wasting my time. There are a lot of things I would and should be doing.”

Rush Limbaugh spoke more explicitly during his 24 October show: ”Good Riddance, GOP Moderates.”  Excerpt:

This is Sarah Palin to Fred Barnes; and that, ladies and gentlemen, is why the rebuilding of the conservative movement — even if there is no direct leader in charge of making it happen, it will happen by default because it’s going to have to. Even if McCain wins, Colin Powell going to come running back? Is Bill Weld going to come running back? Hell, yes, they will! Hell, yes, they’ll come running back. They’ll do everything they can to stay in the circle of power. Of course they’ll come running back. All these people are out for self-interest. That’s what Sarah Palin is saying. She’s not in it for self-interest. The party had better be what the party is or I don’t have any future in it.

We’re going to rebuild it even if McCain wins. We’re going to have to. These people, these moderates who wanted the big tent, they have taken the party exactly where they said they wanted it to be — and when it got there, these little cowards jumped the ship! I have lost all respect for these people.

And, folks, when I said at the beginning of this that I wanted to turn around and pat myself on the back, it’s because I (and so many like me) knew this exact thing was going to happen and tried to warn people about it during the primaries and so forth. I am not happy it’s happened except for one reason. We flushed ‘em out. We found out they’re not really Republicans and they’re by no means conservatives, and now they’re gone. Now the trick is to keep ‘em out.

What might be the results of this course:

(1)  Becoming irrelevant extremists, like the Green and Socialist parties, as both membership and (equally or more important) funding dwindle. Few Americans, and even fewer in our ruling elites, have much interest in losers.  No matter how pure their ideology.

(2)  The center of gravity to America’s political ideological spectrum shifts left.  In most of America the primaries become the key contests in local, State, and national elections, are they are in so many areas today (due to both local political dominance plus gerrymandering).

4.  Door #2:  reflection and rebuilding

The second option would be far more difficult.  What did the Party do wrong?  How should its platform change to better express its beliefs for the 21st century?  How can it offer something to America that is more than a weak echo of the Democratic Party’s solutions, but not policies attractive only to a small extreme? 

5.  A historical note on the two Party system

For most of American history the two Party’s were divided by cross-cutting fractures, as a result of the Civil War making the South solidly Democratic terrain.  Many of the most conservative factions were in the Democratic Party.

After Johnson’s “New Society” much of the South changed affiliation, but this gave a racist tinge to the Republicans.  This weakened or even polluted the foundation laid by Goldwater and Buckley.

Now Obama gives new life to the Democratic Party, but also an opportunity for a fresh start to the Republican Party.  America needs a strong second party to provide not just alternative policies, but an alternative view of what America should be.  Are the Republicans up to this challenge?

Afterword

If you are new to this site, please glance at the archives below.  You may find answers to your questions in these.

Please share your comments by posting below.  Please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp relevance to this topic:

Some solutions, ways to reform America:

  1. Diagnosing the Eagle, Chapter III – reclaiming the Constitution, 3 January 2008
  2. Obama might be the shaman that America needs, 17 July 2008
  3. Obama describes the first step to America’s renewal, 8 August 2008
  4. Let’s look at America in the mirror, the first step to reform, 14 August 2008  
  5. Fixing America: elections, revolt, or passivity?, 16 August 2008
  6. Fixing American: taking responsibility is the first step, 17 August 2008
  7. Fixing America: solutions — elections, revolt, passivity, 18 August 2008

Initiative would allow pot sales at liquor stores

July 9, 2008

By KATU Staff

SALEM, Ore. – Relax it and tax it.

That’s the motto behind a new cannabis initiative that would allow Oregon’s state-controlled liquor stores to legally sell marijuana to adults.

Initiative backers said their plan would send 90 percent of the proceeds from the state’s sale of marijuana to Oregon’s General Fund, which could lower Oregonians’ state tax burden.

Smaller percentages would go to funding drug abuse education and treatment programs.

The initiative would also legalize the growing of hemp, a non-drug variant of cannabis that can be used to make industrial-strength fibers and bio-fuels.

Supporters claim that allowing cannabis cultivation and sales through state liquor stores would add $300 million in combined tax revenues and savings to Oregon’s budget.

Paul Stanford of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act said the measure would also put a dent in illegal dealing of the weed.

“We want to take marijuana out of the hands of children and substance abusers, who control the market today, and put it in the hands of the state’s liquor control commission and the age limit of 21 will be strictly enforced,” Stanford said at a press briefing.

Supporters have two years to collect nearly 83,000 signatures to get the measure on the November ballot in 2010.

The Great Law of Peace

January 6, 2008

Our American Heritage

The Iroquois Confederacy

Sojourn Magazine Winter 1998 (707) 964-1674

“(The Iroquois League) was a model social order in many ways superior to the white man ‘s culture of the day. Its democratic form of government more nearly approached perfection than any that has been tried to date.” — Elmore Reaman 1967
Because historians tend to focus on military engagements and changes in national boundaries, our population has little understanding of cultural and social interactions. In an interesting twist of interpretation, Felix Cohen proposed, in a 1952 article called “Americanizing the White Man,” That “(historians) have seen America only as an imitation of Europe,” but that “the real epic of America is the yet unfinished story of the Americanization of the white man.”

He defines Americanism as largely a product of the influence of Indian culture on the white European settlers. In an equally bold statement, Francis Jennings in The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism and The Cant of Conquest (1975) states that “What white (American) society owes to Indian society, as much as to any other source, is the mere fact of its existence.”

Early Euro-Americans voluntarily adopted methods, lifestyles, artifacts, and ideas from the indigenous people, often in order to survive. Indians in America provided half the modern world’s domesticated food crops, numerous herbal medicines, clothing, transportation pathways and modes, crafts and artifacts, hygiene methods, and thousands of words including place names and ideas of governance that blended ideals of rugged individuality with concern for the common welfare.

The Iroquois republic had continuously existed since the 14th or 15th century. In 1930, Arthur Pound ‘s Johnson of the Mohawk states, wrote “with the possible exception of the also unwritten British Constitution, deriving from the Magna Carta, the Iroquois Constitution is the longest-existing international constitution in the world.” Known ad “The Great Law of Peace,” this orally transmitted constitution describes a federal union of five (later six) Indian nations: Mohawk, Onondagam Seneca, Oneida, Cayuga and the Tscarora, adopted in 1715. It was only put in writing in 1915 by Arthur C. Parker, archeologist for the State Museum of New York.

The Europeans and Iroquois of the mid-18th century were on more friendly terms. Many English nobles adopted the lifestyle of Indians and joined their nations. The Treaty Councils brought cultural exchanges in which leaders and statesmen met as equals to diplomatically solve problems and alleviate strained relations. The trade of Great Britain and the peace and prosperity of the colonies was dependent upon this alliance.

During the era, Benjamin Franklin published twenty-six treaty accounts and represented the state of Pennsylvania as an Indian commissioner. In the pre-Revolutionary period, when he and his friends were advocating a federal union of the colonies, no European model was found to be suitable. Franklin ‘s contact with the Iroquois influenced many key ideas for a new form of government  federalism, equality, natural rights, freedom of religion, property rights, etc. At the 1744 treaty council, by Franklin ‘s account, Canassatego, speaker for the great council at Onondaga, recommended that the colonies form a union in common defense under a federal government: “We are a powerful Confederacy, and by your observing the same methods our wise forefathers have taken, you will acquire much strength and power; therefore, whatever befalls you, do not fall out with one another.”

In arguing for such a plan, Franklin stressed the fact that the individual nations of the confederacy managed their own internal affairs without interference from the Grand Council.

Twenty years after Franklin ‘s plan was defeated at the Albany congress, it reappeared in the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. Franklin, Jefferson, John Adams, and George Washington were all familiar with the Iroquois polity. There is also strong scholarly evidence that European philosophers such as Locke, Roussea, More, and Hobbes were familiar with the societies of the American Indians. The integration of this knowledge into their theories of utopias and natural societies further inspired the U.S. founding fathers.

Even Marx and Engels drew on Iroquois models to support their theories and designs. Engels, like the American revolutionaries a century earlier, was impressed with the Iroquois ‘ ability to achieve economic equality without coercion and to maintain social consensus without a large state apparatus. It is interesting to note that the roots of American democratic government and communism came from similar ideologies  one emphasizing individualism and the other communal holdings both key elements held in balance by the Iroquois. Other scholars see a prototype for the 20th century United Nations in Iroquois thought and constitution.

Each of the Iroquois nations was represented to the Confederate Council by a lord of the confederacy and one war chief. Their league included a system of checks and balances, and no action could be taken without the approval of all five Indian nations. Their notions of equality and liberty extended to women as well as men. In war, they never enslaved captives but offered to adopt those willing to accept the Great Law. Their own members could be alienated or expelled by not following the Great Law, and a non-member could be adopted by proposal or invitation with approval from the lords.

In their constitution, the lords of the confederacy are described as mentors and spiritual guides of the people; their hearts are to be full of peace and goodwill, and their minds full of yearning for the welfare of the people, including those of future generations, their words and actions are to be marked by calm deliberation. They must be honest and have no self-interest; if they become wayward they receive warnings first from the clan women then from the men. If they persist in negative behaviors, they ultimately lose their position and possibly their life. The lords are poorer than the common people. They own few material possessions, and give away presents or plunder acquired by treaty or war. They are above pettiness and corruption, and show no signs of selfishness.

Those who recognized the wisdom and long history of the Iroquois government did not consider the Indians as mere “savages.” Like the Iroquois, Thomas Jefferson believed that public opinion and popular consent were key in maintaining freedom and good government. He held that the power of public opinion was an important reason for the Iroquois ‘ lack of oppressive government and class differences, and for the power to impeach officials who offended governing principles. Like the Iroquois, he also believed that the best government is the least government.

In oratory, the Europeans compared the Iroquois with the Greeks and Romans. Both emphasized ethical proof in their arguments. The Indians ended their orations with the words hiro and kone. Hiro means “I have said,” and kone was spoken as an exclamation of joy or sorrow, depending on the occasion and circumstances. The French pronunciation of these words together became “Iroquois.”

Unlike Europe, the Iroquois society was matri-lineal. Women owned the land and the status f their lineage. They owned all possessions of their husbands after marriage except their horse and rifle; they took charge off the money, and were the tribe ‘s educators and communicators of tradition. They female heirs of the lords of the confederacy were called royaneh (noble). The lord of the confederacy was nominated by women =96 selected for qualities of trustworthiness, good character, honesty, faithfulness to the people and the nation, support of the family, and good management of personal affairs. There was not state religion, and the religious rites and festivals of each nation were safeguarded against being disturbed or interrupted. Civil duties were separated from those of the religious leaders, and festivals were held in the longhouses.

In examining the vision of our forefathers and the many hundreds of years of the Iroquois confederacy ‘s success, we see how far we have strayed in just over two hundred years. More and more a nation of law and order, with vast class and economic distinctions and political favoritism, we would do well to reeducate ourselves in the values of the Iroquois honesty, good character, honor, the power of the spoken word and public opinion, and the high status of women.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That, when any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it.

From the Declaration of Independence.

Researched and written by Jerri-Jo Idarius

Thinking for Yourself is Now a Crime

January 5, 2008

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Jane Harman and Liberty’s Lost Light

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

What was the greatest failure of 2007? President Bush’s “surge” in Iraq? The decline in the value of the US dollar? Subprime mortgages? No. The greatest failure of 2007 was the newly sworn in Democratic Congress.

The American people’s attempt in November 2006 to rein in a rogue government, which has committed the US to costly military adventures while running roughshod over the US Constitution, failed. Replacing Republicans with Democrats in the House and Senate has made no difference.

The assault on the US Constitution by the Democratic Party is as determined as the assault by the Republicans. On October 23, 2007, the House passed a bill sponsored by California Democratic congresswoman Jane Harman, chairwoman of a Homeland Security subcommittee, that overturns the constitutionally guaranteed rights to free expression, association, and assembly.

The bill passed the House on a vote of 404-6. In the Senate the bill is sponsored by Maine Republican Susan Collins and apparently faces no meaningful opposition.

Harman’s bill is called the “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act.“When HR 1955 becomes law, it will create a commission tasked with identifying extremist people, groups, and ideas. The commission will hold hearings around the country, taking testimony and compiling a list of dangerous people and beliefs. The bill will, in short, create massive terrorism in the United States. But the perpetrators of terrorism will not be Muslim terrorists; they will be government agents and fellow citizens.

We are beginning to see who will be the inmates of the detention centers being built in the US by Halliburton under government contract.

Who will be on the “extremist beliefs” list? The answer is: civil libertarians, critics of Israel, 9/11 skeptics, critics of the administration’s wars and foreign policies, critics of the administration’s use of kidnapping, rendition, torture and violation of the Geneva Conventions, and critics of the administration’s spying on Americans. Anyone in the way of a powerful interest group–such as environmentalists opposing politically connected developers–is also a candidate for the list.

The “Extremist Beliefs Commission” is the mechanism for identifying Americans who pose “a threat to domestic security” and a threat of “homegrown terrorism” that “cannot be easily prevented through traditional federal intelligence or law enforcement efforts.”

This bill is a boon for nasty people. That SOB who stole your girlfriend, that hussy who stole your boyfriend, the gun owner next door–just report them to Homeland Security as holders of extreme beliefs. Homeland Security needs suspects, so they are not going to check. Under the new regime, accusation is evidence. Moreover, “our” elected representatives will never admit that they voted for a bill and created an “Extremist Belief Commission” for which there is neither need nor constitutional basis.

That boss who harasses you for coming late to work–he’s a good candidate to be reported; so is that minority employee that you can’t fire for any normal reason. So is the husband of that good-looking woman you have been unable to seduce. Every kind of quarrel and jealousy can now be settled with a phone call to Homeland Security.

Soon Halliburton will be building more detention centers.

Americans are so far removed from the roots of their liberty that they just don’t get it. Most Americans don’t know what habeas corpus is or why it is important to them. But they know what they want, and Jane Harman has given them a new way to settle scores and to advance their own interests.

Even educated liberals believe that the US Constitution is a “living document” that can be changed to mean whatever it needs to mean in order to accommodate some new important cause, such as abortion and legal privileges for minorities and the handicapped. Today it is the “war on terror” that the Constitution must accommodate. Tomorrow it can be the war on whomever or whatever.

Think about it. More than six years ago the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked. The US government blamed it on al Qaeda. The 9/11 Commission Report has been subjected to criticism by a large number of qualified people–including the commission’s chairman and co-chairman.

Since 9/11 there have been no terrorist attacks in the US. The FBI has tried to orchestrate a few, but the “terrorist plots” never got beyond talk organized and led by FBI agents. There are no visible extremist groups other than the neoconservatives that control the government in Washington. But somehow the House of Representatives overwhelmingly sees a need to create a commission to take testimony and search out extremist views (outside of Washington, of course).

This search for extremist views comes after President Bush and the Justice (sic) Department declared that the President can ignore habeas corpus, ignore the Geneva Conventions, seize people without evidence, hold them indefinitely without presenting charges, torture them until they confess to some made up crime, and take over the government by declaring an emergency. Of course, none of these “patriotic” views are extremist.

The search for extremist views follows also the granting of contracts to Halliburton to build detention centers in the US. No member of Congress or the executive branch ever explained the need for the detention centers or who the detainees would be. Of course, there is nothing extremist about building detention centers in the US for undisclosed inmates.

Clearly the detention centers are not meant to just stand there empty. Thanks to 2007’s greatest failure–the Democratic Congress–there is to be an “Extremist Beliefs Commission” to secure inmates for Bush’s detention centers.

President Bush promises us that the wars he has launched will cause the “untamed fire of freedom” to “reach the darkest corners of our world.” Meanwhile in America the fire of freedom has not only been tamed but also is being extinguished.

The light of liberty has gone out in the United States.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com

Pearls For Swine: Who Bought the Magna Carta?

January 2, 2008

 theylive.jpg

by Stephen Pizzo | January 2, 2008 – 9:20am

There’s this newspaper clipping that’s been sitting among the flotsam of my desktop for the last week or so. I tore it out of the December 20 Wall Street Journal because it struck me. Struck me how? Well, that’s pretty much what I’ve been trying to figure out since then.

Having lived through the last seven years of you-know-what, I figured I’d been rendered immune further from shock or awe. And I was sure I’d exceeded my lifetime supply of irony-spotting.

Then I saw the story in question. It couldn’t have been considered very important by WSJ editors, because it was buried on an inside page. But it sure jumped out to me. The headline asked:

Who Bought the Magna Carta?

The story answered it’s own question:

“Talk about your historic takeovers. David Rubenstein, co-founder of the private-equity firm Carlyle Group, bought a 710-year-old copy of the Magna Carta for $21.3 million on Tuesday.” (Full Story)

If you’ve put up with my rants for any time at all, you know I’m no lover of conspiracy theories. And so that’s not where I;m going with this. The Carlyle Group has replaced the Trilateral Commission as the conspiracy-minded’s invisible hand of all things devious and evil. I don’t see it that way at all. Instead I see the Carlyle Group for what it is — America’s preeminent conduit of the fruits of crony capitalism.

Founded in 1987 with $5 million, the Washington-based merchant bank controls nearly $14 billion in investments, making it the largest private equity manager in the world. Carlyle doesn’t dabble in investments. It buys and sells entire companies the way most other investment firms trade shares of stock.

I’m not saying that the Magna Carta’s new owner, David Rubenstein, is a bad man. I did some research and he gives a lot of (tax deductible) money to worthy charities. But then, why not? If members of this exclusive group have anything in excess, it’s money. At any point in time, Carlyle and it’s investors have vested interests virtually any thing important that’s going down in the world.

Wars are bullish for Carlyle. Which is why Carlyle’s board of directors and advisor’s has read like a Who’s Who of all things that go BANG — and KA-CHING.

Oh, and all things Bush too.

Former president George H.W. Bush is a Carlyle adviser, as is former British prime minister John Major who heads its European arm. Former secretary of state James Baker is senior counselor, former White House budget chief Richard Darman is a partner, former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt is senior adviser — the list goes on.

Carlyle has, from time to time, played the role of power-legacy incubator, as it did when asked to find a no-work job for George H. Bush’s good-for-nothing son, George W. George and Barbara Bush are close to the Rubensteins. David, his wife and three children tagged along on an African safari with Barbara Bush.

Four years before George W. Bush’s first run for Texas Governor, Rubenstein was asked to find a soft spot for Georgie to cool his heels and earn some easy money. Carlyle had just purchase Caterair, a company that provided food service to the airlines. A Bush family confident came to Rubenstein and pitched young George.

“…we were putting the board together, somebody [Fred Malek] came to me and said, look there is a guy who would like to be on the board. He’s kind of down on his luck a bit. Needs a job. Needs a board position. Needs some board positions. Could you put him on the board? Pay him a salary and he’ll be a good board member and be a loyal vote for the management and so forth…We put him on the board and [he] spent three years. Came to all the meetings. Told a lot of jokes. Not that many clean ones. ” (David Rubenstein)

(Irony alert: Fred Malek received his 15 minutes of fame in the 1970s as deputy director of CREEP (Committee to Re-elect the President), the Nixon White House operation behind Watergate.)

Did Carlyle’s managers laugh at George’s jokes? Hard to say. More likely they just grinned and bore it, which paid off a decade and half later:

April 2003: Directors of one of the world’s largest armament companies are planning on meeting in Lisbon in three weeks time. The American based Carlyle Group is heavily involved in supplying arms to the Coalition forces fighting in the Iraqi war.

It also holds a majority of shares in the Seven Up company and Federal Data Corporation, supplier of air traffic control surveillance systems to the US Federal Aviation Authority. The 12 billion dollar company has recently signed contracts with United Defense Industries to equip the Turkish and Saudi Arabian armies with aviation Defense systems.

Top of the meeting’s agenda is expected to be the company’s involvement in the rebuilding of Baghdad’s infrastructure after the cessation of current hostilities. Along with several other US companies, the Carlyle Group is expected to be awarded a billion dollar contract by the US Government to help in the redevelopment of airfields and urban areas destroyed by Coalition aerial bombardments. (Full Story)

And, talk about being in on the ground floor of the “War on Terror:” On September 11, 2001, the day two planes crashed into the World Trade Center the Carlyle Group was hosting an investors conference at the nearby Ritz-Carlton, a conference attended by none other than Osama bin Laden’s brother. George H. Bush attended the conference the day before and had met personally with the bin Laden kin.

No, I’m not siding with the 9/11 conspiracy folks. I still think they’re nuts. I am simply making the point that when it, if it’s big, or promises to be big, the Carlyle Group makes sure it has an arm lock on good hunk of the action.

Former Secretary of State James Baker is (of course) a member of Carlyle’s inner circle and he bristles at the notion that the company somehow manipulates world events.

“I say that’s bullshit, and you can print it!” Baker snapped at a reporter. “Somebody would say, ‘well, you had one of the bin Laden brothers as an investor.’ Well, that’s exactly right,” he says, adding that the bin Ladens are one of the wealthiest families in the Middle East and have disowned Osama.

(Duh Alert: After 9/11 Rubenstein announced he had returned the bin Ladens’ $2 million investment.)

Rubenstein has stopped trying to deny the benefits of his company’s toady hyper-connectedness:

“We’ve actually replaced the Trilateral Commission” as the darling of conspiracy theorists,” Rubenstein jokes.

(Irony alert: Rubenstein is also a member of said Trilateral Commission.)

So there we are. The new owner of one of the most important documents in mankind’s march towards democracy has been purchased by Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein. His new acquisition will be housed and conserved, at taxpayer expense, at the National Archives.

Rubensteins copy of the Magna Carta is sure to continue to rise, even as the paradigm-shattering rights it was the first to enshrine into law slip, one by one, from our lives today.
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newsforreal.com

You’re Damn Right I’m Angry. Why Isn’t Everybody?

December 30, 2007

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I write articles each week with titles like “Everything I Need to Know About the Regressive Right I Learned In Junior High”, or “Conservatism Is Politics For Kindergartners”, or “Schadenfreude Is My Middle Name”.

I regret doing so very much. Believe it or not, I really don’t like spewing venom, sarcasm and rage all over my computer keyboard.

I particularly don’t like it because I have friends who are conservative, and it’s not my nature to trash-talk anybody, let alone friends.

Indeed, none of this is in my nature. I don’t start fights and I don’t go looking for them. I’m not an angry, bitter or mean-spirited person. But I can understand how I might be seen as such in the absence of the appropriate context, and it truly chagrins me that I might be so misperceived, and so negatively.

But I don’t intend to change, and I don’t intend to stop making the arguments contained in my rants. I’m angry for a very good set of reasons, and I’m angry because I care about my country just the way conservatives claim to. I’m angry, in short, because I’m a patriot and defender of the ideas that America is supposed to stand for. And what I really want to know is why those on the right aren’t equally outraged?

I was a teenager when Nixon was being Nixon, destroying democracy at home, napalming civilians in Vietnam, conducting secret wars in Laos and Cambodia, employing racism to win elections. At that age I knew enough to dislike what I saw (and what I learned of what Nixon and McCarthy had done to innocent Americans even earlier, before I was born, in order to serve their political ambitions), but I didn’t know enough yet to feel genuine rage at what regressives were doing to my country and to the world.

I began to experience those feelings in my twenties, first as truly sociopathically insane gun laws in this country helped to claim the life of John Lennon, and then as Ronald Reagan began to systematically turn his back on the poor and the middle-class in order to further enrich the country’s already wealthy economic elites. I also felt deep shame and outrage that America – the country that had supported if not literally created every two-bit dictator in Latin America, ‘our backyard’, (and well beyond) for a century – began to murder Nicaraguan peasants in order to halt their struggle to free themselves from the economic and political tyranny of one of those Washington-run caudillo clients, the sickening Somoza regime.

Then I watched in disgust as Newt Gingrich and his merry band of infantile hypocrites impeached a president for lying about a consensual sexual affair, while they were themselves all doing worse, like dumping a wife while she was lying in her hospital bed recovering from cancer surgery, or fathering children with a mistress, or carrying on many years-long affairs.

All of this was truly noxious. Nothing to that point had prepared me, however, for the regressive politics of our time. And they have turned me very angry indeed.

Regressives like to call people like me Bush-haters, and so it is important to address that claim before proceeding, because the entire intent of hurling that label at the president’s critics is to undermine their credibility. If you simply hate the man, they imply, you’re not rational, and your critiques can be dismissed. But it isn’t that simple – not by a long shot. First, it should be noted that the regressive right is far wider a phenomenon than just one person. It currently includes an entire executive branch administration, almost (and, just a year ago, more than) half of Congress, a majority of the Supreme Court and probably a majority of the lower federal courts, a biased-to-the-point-of-being-a-joke mainstream media, and tons of lobbyists, think tanks and profitable industries.

But as to George W. Bush, himself, I suspect it’s quite fair to say that most Americans and even most progressives did not originally despise or loathe him. I didn’t. I certainly didn’t admire the guy, nor did I think he was remotely prepared to be president of the United States. (Nor, by the way, was I particularly impressed with Al Gore in 2000.) Bush campaigned as a center-right pragmatist (a “compassionate conservative”, in his words), much as his father had been, and I expected that’s how he would govern if elected. You know, more embarrassing most of the time than truly destructive.

I mention all this because it is important to note what has – and what has not – been responsible for my/our anger, and to make clear that attempts to dismiss that anger as some Bush-hating bias or predisposition are false, a ploy to destroy the messenger when one doesn’t care for the message he’s carrying. If Bush had governed like he campaigned I’m sure I would have disliked him, but neither hated him nor his policies, nor experienced the rage that I feel about what he’s done to the country and the world. Frankly, my feelings toward another center-right Bush presidency would have likely been largely the same as my feelings toward the center-right Clinton presidency which preceded it.

But he hasn’t governed anywhere near to how he campaigned, and he wasn’t even elected properly, and I do in fact feel huge anger at the damage done. Moreover, I cannot for the life of me imagine how anyone – even conservatives – could feel differently. Even the wealthy, to whose interests this presidency is so wholly devoted, have to sleep at night. Even they have children who will inherit a broken country existing in an environmentally and politically hostile world, though no doubt they figure that big enough fences, mean enough private armies, and loads of central air conditioning will insulate them from the damage.

I don’t mind that the Bush campaign fought hard to win the 2000 election. That was certainly a legitimate goal for them to pursue. But it nauseates me beyond belief that their agents in the Florida government disenfranchised tens of thousands of African Americans in order to keep them from voting Democratic. And it sickens me that they gathered up a bunch of congressional staffers pretending to be an angry local mob and stormed election canvassers, using pure Gestapo techniques to shut down the most fundamental act of democracy, counting the votes.

I don’t mind that the Bush campaign took the election to the Supreme Court, even though they were simultaneously accusing the Gore folks of being litigious. What disgusts me beyond words is that a regressive majority of the Court anointed Bush president in a sheer act of partisan politics. And that they were so anxious to achieve that end that they repudiated all their own judicial politics previously espoused in case after case – from states’ rights, to equal protection, to judicial restraint. And that they were so conscious of what they were actually doing that they took the unprecedented step of stating that no lasting principles were involved in the matter, that their decision would forever apply to this case and this case only.

Once in office, there was still the possibility that the administration would govern as it had campaigned, as a rather centrist, status quo-style government, perhaps especially tempered from arrogance and overstretch by the knowledge that the country was deeply divided and that Bush had in fact actually lost the popular vote. In fact, though, they did precisely the opposite.

The first order of business, certainly the top priority for the administration, and arguably the only thing they were ever completely seriously about, was their tax restructuring program. It was grim enough that the tax cuts, as under Reagan, where dramatically tilted in favor of the wealthy. But what made them especially disgusting was that – again, as under Reagan – these wholesale revenue reductions were not only not accompanied by expenditure cuts, but in fact were coupled with increased spending. Can you say “voodoo economics”? Bush’s father once had, before he treasonously changed his tune to win the vice presidency (leading to the presidency) for himself. But he was right the first time, before he put personal ambition and transparent insecurity ahead of the national interest. And thus we’ve witnessed the only possible result of the combination of massive revenue cuts and continuing spending increases: astronomical debt, now well over nine trillion dollars in total, and rapidly growing. What I want to know is how can we – especially so-called family-oriented, so-called fiscal conservatives – not be outraged, not be scandalized, not be boiling with anger at the debt we have transferred to our own children, all so that we could avoid paying our own way, like every generation before us has?

I am outraged as well at how the administration polarized the country in the wake of one of the greatest traumas it had ever experienced. Let us leave aside the ample evidence demonstrating that the Bush team was asleep at the wheel before 9/11 – or perhaps far, far worse – a set of facts which is noteworthy in part because progressives did not use them to attack the president and score cheap but easy political points. But the administration did precisely that. It is disgusting – and it fills me with anger – how they used a national security crisis to win partisan political contests. How they scheduled a vote on the Iraq war resolution right before the midterm elections of 2002, thus politicizing the gravest decision a country can make by forcing Democrats to choose between voting their conscience and campaign accusations of being soft on national security.

It boils my blood that these chickenhawks – almost none of whom showed up for duty in Vietnam when it was their turn – could dare to accuse Max Cleland of being weak on national security, a guy who gave three of his four limbs to that very cause on the battlefields of Southeast Asia. How could they run ads morphing his face into Saddam’s or bin Laden’s, when his opponent – of course – took Vietnam deferments, just like Cheney and Ashcroft and the rest? And how could they accuse him of being weak on national defense because he opposed the bureaucratic reshuffling to create the Homeland Security Department, when Bush himself had also opposed it? That is, before Rove politicized it by inserting union-busting language applying to tens of thousands of civil servants covered by the act.

It nauseates me beyond words that this president could use the tragedy of 9/11 to justify invading a country which had nothing to do with that attack whatsoever. It enrages me that those who had the courage to oppose this policy so transparently deceitful (and it truly was – from the proof of the Downing Street Memos, to Colin Powell’s charade at the UN, to the assurances that the US knew where the WMD were, to the rejection of the weapons inspectors’ request to have two more months to finish the job) were labeled as traitors and worse for telling the truth. And that 4,000 Americans and over a million Iraqis have died for these lies.

And speaking of treason, what sort of looking glass have we all fallen through when the government of the United States exposes its own CIA undercover agent in order to punish her spouse for revealing administration lies about the war? When did that cease to be a cause of outrage, especially among our super-patriotic friends on the right?

How is it possible not to be angry looking at the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, and the bungled response of the government before, during and after that tragedy? Indeed, even journalists who had spent so many years licking government boots that their tongues had long ago turned black were moved to outrage at the magnitude of that failure, with the president meanwhile on a stage in San Diego pretending to play guitar at a Republican fundraiser.

I am outraged, as well, by one of the most insane and avoidable tragedies of all human history, the slow-motion holocaust of global warming. How can anyone not be angry at a political movement and a government that puts the short-term profits of one or two industries ahead of the viability of the entire planet? How can anyone not be mortified as we one-twentieth of the world’s population, who generate one-fourth of the greenhouse gases causing the problem, not only do nothing about the problem, but actively block the rest of the world from saving all of us from this folly?

I’m furious because the Bush administration and its ideological allies have shredded the Constitution at every turn, destroying the institutional gift of those they pretend to revere (but only when it’s convenient to upholding their own depredations). This president, who has gotten virtually everything he has ever wanted throughout his life and his presidency, once privately exclaimed in frustration at not getting something he wanted when he wanted it, “It’s just a goddam piece of paper!”, and that is precisely how he has treated America’s founding document. His signing statements – probably over a thousand in count now – completely obliterate the checks and balances principle of the Constitution, its most central idea. His admitted spying on Americans without warrant smashes the Fourth Amendment. His fiasco in Guantanamo and beyond mocks due process and habeas corpus guarantees. His invasion of Iraq against the international law codified in the UN Charter, to which the United States is a signatory, violates the Constitutional requirement to hold such treaties as the highest law of the land. Altogether, Americans have never seen a presidency with such imperial ambitions, and anyone who cares about the Constitution should be furious. A year from now, it is quite possible that Hillary Clinton will be president of the United States (ugh). Would our conservative friends silently countenance, let alone viciously support, such a monarchy in the White House if it belonged to Queen Hillary rather than King George? I think not.

We could go on and on from here. This administration and the movement it fronts at least gets high marks for consistency. Everything they touch turns to stone. There’s Pat Tillman and Terri Schiavo. There’s the politicization of the US Attorneys and the corruption of DeLay and Abramoff. There’s North Korea, Pakistan and the Middle East. There’s the shame of torture and rendition. There’s the wrecking of the American military and of the country’s reputation abroad. There’s Afghanistan and the failure to capture bin Laden. And much, much more. But above all, and driving all, there’s the kleptocracy – the doing of everything in every way to facilitate the looting of the national fisc.

What an unbelievable record of deceit, destruction, hypocrisy, incompetence, treason and greed. What a tragic tale of debt, lost wars, stolen elections, environmental crises, Constitution shredding, national shame and diminished security.

All done by the very most pious amongst us, of course. Merry Christmas, eh? I guess those are our presents, all carefully wrapped in spin, contempt, and preemptive attacks on any of us impertinent enough to say “No thanks, Santa”.

So, yeah, you’re goddam right I’m angry about what’s been done to my country, and what’s been done by my country in my name.

How could anyone who claims to care about America not be?

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers’ reactions to his articles (dmg@regressiveantidote.net), but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website, www.regressiveantidote.net.

We Are All Prisoners Now

December 27, 2007

a_neocon_thanks_giving1.jpg

by Paul Craig Roberts

“They’re locking them up today
They’re throwing away the key
I wonder who it’ll be tomorrow, you or me?”
~ The Red Telephone (LOVE, 1967)

At Christmas time it has been my habit to write a column in remembrance of the many innocent people in prisons whose lives have been stolen by the US criminal justice (sic) system that is as inhumane as it is indifferent to justice. Usually I retell the cases of William Strong and Christophe Gaynor, two men framed in the state of Virginia by prosecutors and judges as wicked and corrupt as any who served Hitler or Stalin.

This year is different. All Americans are now imprisoned in a world of lies and deception created by the Bush Regime and the two complicit parties of Congress, by federal judges too timid or ignorant to recognize a rogue regime running roughshod over the Constitution, by a bought-and-paid-for media that serves as propagandists for a regime of war criminals, and by a public who have forsaken their Founding Fathers.

Americans are also imprisoned by fear, a false fear created by the hoax of “terrorism.” It has turned out that headline terrorist events since 9/11 have been orchestrated by the US government. For example, the alleged terrorist plot to blow up Chicago’s Sears Tower was the brainchild of a FBI agent who searched out a few disaffected people to give lip service to the plot devised by the FBI agent. He arrested his victims, whose trial ended in acquittal and mistrial.

Raising doubts among Americans about the government is not a strong point of the corporate media. Americans live in a world of propaganda designed to secure their acquiescence to war crimes, torture, searches and police state measures, military aggression, hegemony and oppression, while portraying Americans (and Israelis) as the salt of the earth who are threatened by Muslims who hate their “freedom and democracy.”

Americans cling to this “truth” while the Bush regime and a complicit Congress destroy the Bill of Rights and engineer the theft of elections.

Freedom and democracy in America have been reduced to no-fly lists, spying without warrants, arrests without warrants or evidence, permanent detention despite the constitutional protection of habeas corpus, torture despite the prohibition against self-incrimination – the list goes on and on.

In today’s fearful America, a US Senator, whose elder brothers were (1) a military hero killed in action, (2) a President of the United States assassinated in office, (3) an Attorney General of the United States and likely president except he was assassinated like his brother, can find himself on the no-fly list. Present and former high government officials, with top-secret security clearances, cannot fly with a tube of toothpaste or a bottle of water despite the absence of any evidence that extreme measures imposed by “airport security” makes flying safer.

Elderly American citizens with walkers and young mothers with children are meticulously searched because US Homeland Security cannot tell the difference between an American citizen and a terrorist.

All Americans should note the ominous implications of the inability of Homeland Security to distinguish an American citizen from a terrorist.

When Airport Security cannot differentiate a US Marine General recipient of the Medal of Honor from a terrorist, Americans have all the information they need to know.

Any and every American can be arrested by unaccountable authority, held indefinitely without charges and tortured until he or she can no longer stand the abuse and confesses.

This predicament, which can now befall any American, is our reward for our stupidity, our indifference, our gullibility, and our lack of compassion for anyone but ourselves.

Some Americans have begun to comprehend the tremendous financial costs of the “war on terror.” But few understand the cost to American liberty. Last October a Democrat-sponsored bill, “Prevention of Violent Radicalism and Homegrown Terrorism,” passed the House of Representatives 404 to 6.

Only six members of the House voted against tyrannical legislation that would destroy freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and that would mandate 18 months of congressional hearings to discover Americans with “extreme” views who could be preemptively arrested.

What better indication that the US Constitution has lost its authority when elected representatives closest to the people pass a bill that permits the Bill of Rights to be overturned by the subjective opinion of members of an “Extremist Belief Commission” and Homeland Security bureaucrats? Clearly, Americans face no greater threat than the government in Washington.

December 27, 2007

Paul Craig Roberts [send him mail] wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is author or coauthor of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury’s Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He is also coauthor with Karen Araujo of Chile: Dos Visiones – La Era Allende-Pinochet (Santiago: Universidad Andres Bello, 2000).

Tasar note to cops, 50 yr old woman on cellphone “NO”, Naked man wielding axe “YES”

December 24, 2007
mr-axe-man.jpgWAUZEKA, Wis. — Charges are pending after a naked 52-year-old Wauzeka man attacked Crawford County Sheriff’s Department deputies with an axe Thursday night after barricading himself in his house.

Deputies responded to Wauzeka for a report of a male, who authorities have not identified, acting “bizarre,” according to Crawford County Sheriff Jerry Moran. Deputies were knocking on the door when the man suddenly appeared naked and brandishing a double-bitted axe. The man started to come outside with the axe before retreating, shutting the door and swinging the axe, sticking it through the door. He then barricaded himself in the house.

Moran said deputies backed away from the house and summoned the Tri-River Special Operations Team. Deputies surrounded the house and evacuated neighbors. At 7:20 p.m., the man suddenly charged out of his house, shouting at police. The team’s members responded, using a taser and rubber bullets to subdue the man, who was not seriously hurt. He was taken to Boscobel Area Health Care

for examination for any possible injuries.

http://www.thonline.com/article.cfm?id=184631

FBI planned mass arrests in 1950

December 23, 2007

Former FBI director J Edgar Hoover

The FBI boss wanted suspects held in military and federal prisons

Former FBI director J Edgar Hoover had a plan to arrest 12,000 Americans he deemed a possible threat to national security, declassified papers reveal. The FBI chief sent his proposal to US President Harry Truman just after the start of the Korean War in 1950, The New York Times newspaper reports.

He asked the president to declare the mass arrest necessary to counter “treason, espionage and sabotage”.

There is no evidence any part of the plan was ever approved.

Mr Hoover wanted the president to suspend the centuries-old legal right of habeas corpus, which protects individuals against unlawful arrest.

The FBI director planned to detain the suspects – whose list of names he had been compiling for years – in US military and federal prisons.

“The index now contains approximately 12,000 individuals, of which approximately 97% are citizens of the United States,” wrote Mr Hoover, in the now declassified document.

The New York Times gave no details about the identities of those targeted.

The US Department of State declassified the plan, along with other Cold War-era documents from 1950-55 this week.

Bill of Rights Under Bush: A Timeline

December 19, 2007

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By Phil Leggiere, writing for QuestionAuthority

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2001

January

Presidential directive delays indefinitely the scheduled release of presidential documents (authorized by the Presidential Records Act of 1978) pertaining to the Reagan-Bush administration. Link

Bush and Cheney begin process of radically broadening scope of documents and information which can be deemed classified. Link

February

The National Security Agency (NSA) sets up Project Groundbreaker, a domestic call monitoring program infrastructure. Link

Spring

Bush administration order authorizes NSA monitoring of domestic phone and internet traffic. Link

May

US Supreme Court rules that medical necessity is not a permissible defense against federal marijuana statutes. Link

September

In immediate aftermath of 9-11 terror attacks, Department of Justice authorizes detention without charge for any terror suspects. Over one thousand suspects are brought into detention over the next several months. Link (pdf)

October

Attorney General John Ashcroft announces change in Department of Justice (DOJ) policy. According to the new policy DOJ will impose far more stringent criteria for the granting of Freedom of Information Act requests. Link

September-October

NSA launches massive new database of information on US phone calls. Link

October

The USA Patriot Act becomes law. Among other things the law: makes it a crime for anyone to contribute money or material support for any group on the State Department’s Terror Watch List, allows the FBI to monitor and tape conversations between attorneys and clients, allows the FBI to order librarians to turn over information about patron’s reading habits, allows the government to conduct surveillance on internet and email use of US citizens without notice. The act also calls for expanded use of National Security Letters (NSLs), which allow the FBI to search telephone, email and financial records of US citizens without a court order, exempts the government from needing to reveal how evidence against suspected terrorists was obtained and authorizes indefinite detention of immigrants at the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities.

NJ Superior court judge and civil liberties scholar Anthony Napolitano, author of A Nation of Sheep, has described the law’s assault on first and fourth amendment principles as follows, “The Patriot Act’s two most principle constitutional errors are an assault on the Fourth Amendment, and on the First. It permits federal agents to write their own search warrants [under the name “national security letters”] with no judge having examined evidence and agreed that it’s likely that the person or thing the government wants to search will reveal evidence of a crime… Not only that, but the Patriot Act makes it a felony for the recipient of a self-written search warrant to reveal it to anyone. The Patriot Act allows [agents] to serve self-written search warrants on financial institutions, and the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2004 in Orwellian language defines that to include in addition to banks, also delis, bodegas, restaurants, hotels, doctors’ offices, lawyers’ offices, telecoms, HMOs, hospitals, casinos, jewelry dealers, automobile dealers, boat dealers, and that great financial institution to which we all would repose our fortunes, the post office. Link 1 | Link 2

November

Executive order limits release of presidential documents. The order gives incumbent presidents the right to veto requests to open any past presidential records and supercedes the congressionally passed law of 1978 mandating release of all presidential records not explicitly deemed classified. Link

2002

Winter

FBI and Department of Defense (DOD), forbidden by law from compiling databases on US citizens, begin contracting with private database firm ChoicePoint to collect, store, search and maintain data. Link

Spring

Secret executive order issued authorizing NSA to wiretap the phones and read emails of US citizens. Link

Spring

Transportation Security Adminstration (TSA) acknowledges it has created both a “No Fly” and a separate “Watch” list of US travelers. Link

May

Department of Justice authorizes the FBI to monitor political and religious groups. The new rules permit the FBI to broadly search or monitor the internet for evidence of criminal activity without having any tips or leads that a specific criminal act has been committed. Link

June

Supreme Court upholds the right of school administrators to conduct mandatory drug testing of students without probable cause. Link

November

Homeland Security Act of 2002 establishes separate Department of Homeland Security. Among other things the department will federally coordinate for the first time all local and state law enforcement nationwide and run a Directorate of Information and Analysis with authority to compile comprehensive data on US citizens using public and commercial records including credit card, phone, bank, and travel. The department also will be exempt form Freedom of Information Act disclosure requirements. The Homeland Security department’s jurisdiction has been widely criticized for being nebulously defined and has extended beyond terrorism into areas including immigration, pornography and drug enforcement. Link 1 | Link 2

2003

February

Draft of Domestic Security Enhancement Act (aka Patriot Act 2), a secret document prepared by the Department of Justice is leaked by the Center for Public Integrity. Provisions of the February 7th draft version included:

Removal of court-ordered prohibitions against police agencies spying on domestic groups.

The FBI would be granted powers to conduct searches and surveillance based on intelligence gathered in foreign countries without first obtaining a court order.

Creation of a DNA database of suspected terrorists.

Prohibition of any public disclosure of the names of alleged terrorists including those who have been arrested.

Exemptions from civil liability for people and businesses who voluntarily turn private information over to the government.

Criminalization of the use of encryption to conceal incriminating communications.

Automatic denial of bail for persons accused of terrorism-related crimes, reversing the ordinary common law burden of proof principle. All alleged terrorists would be required to demonstrate why they should be released on bail rather than the government being required to demonstrate why they should be held.

Expansion of the list of crimes eligible for the death penalty.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency would be prevented from releasing “worst case scenario” information to the public about chemical plants.

United States citizens whom the government finds to be either members of, or providing material support to, terrorist groups could have their US citizenship revoked and be deported to foreign countries.

Although the bill itself has never (yet) been advanced in congress due to public exposure, some of its provisions have become law as parts of other bills. For example The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 grants the FBI unprecedented power to obtain records from financial institutions without requiring permission from a judge. Under the law, the FBI does not need to seek a court order to access such records, nor does it need to prove just cause. Link 1 | Link 2

March

Executive order issued which radically tightens the declassification process of classified government documents, as well as making it far easier for government agencies to make and keep information classified. The order delayed by three years the release of declassified government documents dating from 1978 or earlier. It also allowed the government to treat all material sent to American officials from foreign governments — no matter how routine — as subject to classification, and expanded the ability of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to shield documents from declassification. Finally it gave the vice president the power to classify information. Link 1 | Link 2

March

In a ruling seen as a victory for the concentration of ownership of intellectual property and an erosion of the public domain, the Supreme Court in Eldred v. Ashcroft held that a 20-year extension of the copyright period (from 50 years after the death of the author to 70 years) called for by the Sonny Bono copyright Extension not violate either the Copyright Clause or the First Amendment. Link

April

In Demore v. Kim, the Supreme Court ruled that even permanent residents could be subject to mandatory detention when facing deportation based on a prior criminal conviction, without any right to an individualized hearing to determine whether they were dangerous or a flight risk. Link

Fall

The FBI changes its traditional policy of destroying all data and documents collected on innocent citizens in the course of criminal investigations. This information would, according to the bureau, now be permanently stored. Two years later in late 2005 Executive Order 13388, expanded access to those files for “state, local and tribal” governments and for “appropriate private sector entities,” which are not defined. Link 1 | Link 2

Fall

As authorized by the Patriot Act, the FBI expands the practice of national security letters. NSLs, originally introduced in the 1970s for espionage and terrorism investigations, enabled the FBI to review in secret the customer records of suspected foreign agents. This was extended by the Patriot Act to include permitting clandestine scrutiny of all U.S. residents and visitors whether suspected of terrorism or not. Link

2004

January

The FBI begins keeping a database of US citizens based on information obtained via NSLs. Link

Spring

John Ashcroft invokes State Secrets privilege to forbid former FBI translator Sibel Edmunds from testifying in a case brought by families of victims of the 9-11 attacks. Litigation by 9-11 families is subsequently halted. Link 1 | Link 2

June

Supreme Court upholds Nevada state law allowing police to arrest suspects who refuse to provide identification based on police discretion of “reasonable suspicion.” Link

2005

January

Supreme court rules that police do not need to have probable cause to have drug sniffing dogs examine cars stopped for routine traffic violations. Link 1 | Link 2

June

Supreme Court rules that the federal government can prosecute medical marijuana users even in states which have laws permitting medical marijuana. Link

Summer

The Patriot Act, due to expire at the end of 2005, is reauthorized by Congress. Link

Winter 2005

Senate blocks reauthorization of certain clauses in Patriot Act. Link

2006

March

Senate passes amended version of Patriot Act, reauthorization, with three basic changes from the original including: recipients of secret court orders to turn over sensitive information on individuals linked to terrorism investigations are not allowed to disclose those orders but can challenge the gag order after a year, libraries would not be required to turn over information without the approval of a judge, recipients of an FBI “national security letter” — an investigator’s demand for access to personal or business information — would not have to tell the FBI if they consult a lawyer. New bill also said to extend Congressional oversight over executive department usage guidelines. Shortly after bill is signed George Bush declares oversight rules are not binding. Link 1 | Link 2

June

Supreme court rules that evidence obtained in violation of the “knock and announce” rules can still be permitted in court. Link

September

US Congress and Senate approve the Military Commissions Act, which authorizes torture and strips non- US citizen detainees suspected of terrorist ties of the right of habeas corpus (which includes formal charges, counsel and hearings). It also empowers US presidents at their discretion to declare US citizens as enemy combatants and subject to detention without charge or due process. Link 1 | Link 2 | Link 3

October

John Warner Defense Authorization Act is passed. The act allows a president to declare a public emergency and station US military troops anywhere in America as well as take control of state based national guard units without consent of the governor or other local authorities. The law authorizes presidential deployment of US troops to round-up and detain “potential terrorists”, “illegal aliens” and “disorderly” citizenry. Link 1 | Link 2

2007

May

National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD-51) establishes a new post-disaster plan (with disaster defined as any incident, natural or man-made, resulting in extraordinary mass casualties, damage or disruption) which places the president in charge of all three branches of government. The directive overrides the National Emergencies Act which gives Congress power to determine the duration of a national emergency. Link 1 | Link 2

June

In “Bong Hits for Jesus” case Supreme court rules that student free speech rights do not extend to promotion of drug use. Link

July

Executive Order 13438: “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq, issued. The order asserts the government’s power to confiscate the property “of persons determined to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq or undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people.”

October

The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act passes the House of Representatives 400 to 6 (to be voted on in the Senate in 2008). The act proposes the establishment of a commission composed of members of the House and Senate, Homeland Security and others, to “examine and report upon the facts and causes of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in the United States” and specifically the role of the internet in fostering and disseminating extremism. According to the bill the term `violent radicalization’ means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change, while the term ‘ideologically-based violence’ means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual’s political, religious, or social beliefs.” Link 1 | Link 2 | Link 3

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Other research sources

James Bovard, Attention Deficit Democracy, 2007 Palgrave Macmillan

Elaine Cassel,The War on Civil Liberties: How Bush and Ashcroft Have Dismantled t…, 2004 Lawrence Hill Books

Anthony Napolitano, A Nation of Sheep, 2007 Thomas Nelson

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