Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Constitutional crisis in the making

At the very heart of a looming crisis is the lie Bush told about the extent of widespread domestic Surveillance by the NSA. What Bush told us was a program of very limited surveillance is now revealed to have been the warrantless surveillance of tens of millions of Americans. That's bad enough, but it's made worse by the numerous lies Bush has already told about it. That the surveillance was limited is the most egregious lie —and quite possibly criminal.

In what sounds like a chapter out of George Orwell's 1984, every call is now chronicled in what has been called the world's largest database. Even Republican Sen. Arlen Spector has used the term "big brother" to describe the breathtaking extent of Bush's prying into the affairs of innocent American citizens. Contrary to what Bush has said repeatedly, the NSA —under the control and direction of Gen. Michael Hayden —created what has been called "[T]he largest database ever assembled in the world." The goal, according to USA Today, was " create a database of every call ever made" inside the United States.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, meanwhile, bristles at suggestions that only Al Qaeda suspects were surveilled. Are we expected to believe, Leahy asks, that tens of millions of Americans were suspected of plotting with Al Qaeda? If that is so, says Leahy, the war on terrorism has failed —as miserably as has the occupant of the Oval Office. The simpler explanation: Bush lied to the Congress and to the American people. It was on January 2, 2006, that Bush lied —statling flatly that the NSA program did not result " widespread domestic eavesdropping."

The extent of the spying is almost incomprehensible. Tens of millions of American citizens have been denied due process of law, protections guaranteed them in the U.S. Constitution. It is significant and consistent that Bush is credibly quoted as having said "The Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper". If it were not, then Bush will certainly make it so with arrogant, criminal duplicity.

If Gen. Michael Hayden —Bush's choice to replace Porter Goss —is confirmed, Bush and Cheney will have all but consolidated dictatorial powers. All U.S. Intelligence gathering, analysis, and compilation will fall under the control of the Bush junta. Many would call that dictatorship. It is that and tyranny as well.

Bush had co-conspirators —huge American corporations which are now complicit in Bush's deliberate subversions of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Two dramatic events now point to a Constitutional crisis in the making.
  1. The Bush administration has abruptly ended the investigation into widespread warrantless eavesdropping program. The reason given is that the National Security Agency —under the direction of Gen. Michael Heyden —refused to grant Justice Department lawyers security clearances. How bloody convenient!
  2. USA Today also reveals that three huge American communications companies —AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth —may very well be complicit with Bush in crimes against the people and the Constitution. If Bush's program is found to be illegal, then it follows that corporations enabling his crime are complicit in Bush's crimes against the constitution and the people.
Meanwhile, Democratic U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews joined Sen. Diane Feinstein with warnings of a constitutional crisis —the worst constitutional crisis in the last 30 years. During a two-hour forum at Rutgers University, Andrews urged a "... congressional review of President Bush's approval of warrantless eavesdropping on Americans."

Meanwhile, too much is made of a red herring —the Rumsfeld/Hayden riff over Pentagon vs CIA intelligence. If Bush really wanted to "rein in" Rumsfeld in, he would simply fire him. On the contrary —Rumsfeld is but one piece of the Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld triumvirate. Bush doesn't want or need to "rein in" Rumsfeld. It's hard not to conclude that when Hayden takes over the CIA, the triumvirate" will have consolidated its power. If there is any reining in to be done, it'll be Hayden reining in career professionals at the CIA. That was apparently Goss' job and that Goss is gone would tend to indicate a job left undone. Enter Hayden!

There is a word for the actions and policies of George W. Bush. That word is tyranny. Congress has but one duty now. It must end Bush's incompetent tyranny! The alternative —an end to the rule of law —is too terrible to contemplate.

A nation's character is revealed in times of crisis. We will soon learn what Americans are made of. Will America demand of its elected officials that they stand for the rule of law? If they will not, it is time to leave the country. Life is too short and precious to waste it living under the iron boot of a tin horn, crass dictator of limited intelligence and no honor.

Based on some of the email I've gotten in response to this article, I've prepared an addendum. Following is the text of my reply by email:
Sadly, it may be too late to impeach Bush. Let's assume the Senate found him guilty following an impeachment and trial. What would the Senate do if Bush simply refused to leave? There is no sending in the troops; Rumsfeld takes his orders from Bush. If the Senate sent Federal Marshalls to the White House, would Bush's secret service officers bar them from entering? Dick Cheney, as I recall, has already turned away process servers and threatened them with arrest if they persisted.

We are rapidly running out of options short of revolution or armed insurrection. You may have seen my article on OpEd in which I advocated Ted Rall's idea of a "national recall". But that requires a Constitutional amendment. We don't have that kind of time.

I wrote another article supporting the invocation of Article 5 of the Constitution which provides for the creation of a new National Convention upon a petition by a specified number of state houses. As the late Sen. Sam Irvin said, a new national convention could literally rewrite the constitution, and, in this case, undo the harm done to it by Bush. But again —should such a convention literally write Bush and his cabal out of a job, who will enforce it? Rumsfeld will ring the White House with tanks.

A new "government" citing such a new charter would be rounded up ...and possibly shot even though their every action would be in accordance with the provisions of Article 5 of the current Constitution.

My thesis was that we have one last chance to save the republic. But —I could be wrong. It may be all over already. And, if that's the case, it's time to make plans to leave the country before being thrown into a FEMA camp.

In the meantime, I recommend throwing as much flack as possible toward Bushco and hope something sticks. The alternative to success is too terrible to contemplate. As Billie Holiday said "God bless the Child that's got his own".

Sound like anybody we know?
On July 31, 1932, Hitler’s Nazi party won 230 out of 608 seats in the Reichstag, making it the majority party, but he was not yet in power. It was several years before Hitler became the cosmically evil war criminal. On January 30, 1933, Hitler was finally sworn in as Chancellor. Historian Alan Bullock describes it:
    “Hitler came to office in 1933 as the result, not of any irresistible revolutionary or national movement sweeping him into power, nor even of a popular victory at the polls, but as part of a shoddy political deal with the ‘Old Gang’ whom he had been attacking for months.... Hitler did not seize power; he was jobbed into office by a backstairs intrigue.”
At the time, most Germans couldn’t imagine that Hitler would last long because his bombastic and swaggering manner and his overly simplistic speeches about Germany’s social, economic, and political problems were a “joke.”

Politically sophisticated Germans dismissed Hitler as an inept caricature, but he and his accomplices consolidated their power by passing national security legislation supported by a stacked court. During these critical times of concentrating power, die Schutzstaffeln (SS) made sure that Hitler’s critics and opponents were kept far away and silenced so that it would appear as though he had complete national support and, indeed, a mandate.

Thus peacefully began Nazi totalitarianism.

—Frederick Sweet

Note: Frederick Sweet is Professor of Reproductive Biology in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. You can email your comments to

'Toons by Dante Lee; use only with permission

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