Friday, May 12, 2006

Has Bush crossed the Rubicon?

Is it too late to impeach him?

The issue is pressing. If Bush is not successfully challenged, the consquences are unthinkable. Consider the following remark by Senator Russ Feingold:
If that's the law, then "...the President could even order the assassination of American citizens."
In 49 B.C. Rome found itself at war with itself. Though it was prohibited by the Roman constitution, Caesar crossed the Rubicon and defied the civil authorities. The law was on the side of the Senate and the citizens of Rome but Caesar had the force of arms. Who could oppose him? Though he had violated the constitution, he marched his legions into Rome where he was elected consul and dictator for life. Cicero lamented, “Our beloved republic is gone forever.” He was right.

Over the last two days, it's become apparent that Bush lied to the nation about the extent of his widespread program of domestic surveillance. The revelations have renewed the debate: should Bush be impeached? I wonder if it is too late to impeach Bush. Has he already consolidated dictatorial powers? Has he crossed the Rubicon? Is it possible to know until he is impeached, convicted and refuses to leave the White House?

When Democratic Senator Russ Feingold introduced a resolution to censure Bush, the GOP outcry was hollow and disingenuous. Feingold, however, made a succinct case for impeachment on ABC This Week:
FEINGOLD: Not at all. You know, we’ve had a chance here for three months to look at whether there’s any legal basis for this, and they’re using shifting legal justifications. First they try to argue that somehow, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, they can do this. It’s pretty clear that they can’t. Then there’s the argument that somehow the military authorization for Afghanistan allowed this. This has basically been laughed out of the room in the Congress. So the last resort is to somehow say that the President has inherent authority to ignore the law of the United States of America, and that has the consequence that the President could even order the assassination of American citizens if that’s the law. So there is no sort of independent inherent authority that allows the president to override the laws passed by the Congress of the United States.
Let's assume the Senate found Bush guilty following an impeachment and trial. What would the Senate do if Bush simply refused to leave? The Congress cannot send in the troops; Rumsfeld takes his orders from Bush. When it comes to the military, the Congress has only budgetary control.

President Abraham Lincoln issued a warrant for the arrest of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney but I know of no incident in which the Senate has issued a warrant for the arrest of the President of the United States. Lincoln's biographer's have notoriously omitted the incident involving Taney but you can find an authoritative account at: Lincoln Crossing the Rubicon.

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. Some may have seen my article on OpEd News 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 would enforce it? Rumsfeld will simply ring the White House with tanks. Washington will look like Tiananmen Square.

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

We are approaching a dramatic showdown not unlike the Supreme Court order that Nixon release the tapes of his White House conversations. The nation held its breath. Would Nixon refuse? Who would enforce an order of the Supreme Court?

It is my belief that we might yet save the republic. But, if Bush has already crossed the Rubicon, we might not know it until he refuses to leave the White House. If that is the case, it will already be too late to impeach —and sadly, we won't know that until the impeachment resolution is passed. The alternative to success, however, is too terrible to contemplate. As Billie Holiday said "God bless the Child that's got his own".

As Ed Murrow would say: "Good night —and good luck"! We're gonna need all we can get.

Hayden CIA bid hinges on spying role: senators

By Peter Szekely

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden's chances of winning Senate confirmation to head the CIA depend on how he explains his involvement in eavesdropping and data collection programs, two key senators said on Sunday.

President George W. Bush's nominee for CIA director can expect tough questions this week about his role in the administration's controversial domestic spying program while he was head of the National Security Agency.

"There's no question that his confirmation is going to depend upon the answers he gives regarding activities of NSA," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee whom Hayden will face on Thursday. ...
Here's a breaking update:

NSA Whistleblower To Expose More Unlawful Activity: 'People Are Going To Be Shocked'

CongressDaily reports that former NSA staffer Russell Tice will testify to the Senate Armed Services Committee next week that not only do employees at the agency believe the activities they are being asked to perform are unlawful, but that what has been disclosed so far is only the tip of the iceberg. Tice will tell Congress that former NSA head Gen. Michael Hayden, Bush's nominee to be the next CIA director, oversaw more illegal activity that has yet to be disclosed:

A former intelligence officer for the National Security Agency said Thursday he plans to tell Senate staffers next week that unlawful activity occurred at the agency under the supervision of Gen. Michael Hayden beyond what has been publicly reported, while hinting that it might have involved the illegal use of space-based satellites and systems to spy on U.S. citizens.

[Tice] said he plans to tell the committee staffers the NSA conducted illegal and unconstitutional surveillance of U.S. citizens while he was there with the knowledge of Hayden. "I think the people I talk to next week are going to be shocked when I tell them what I have to tell them. It's pretty hard to believe," Tice said. "I hope that they'll clean up the abuses and have some oversight into these programs, which doesn't exist right now."

Tice said his information is different from the Terrorist Surveillance Program that Bush acknowledged in December and from news accounts this week that the NSA has been secretly collecting phone call records of millions of Americans. "It's an angle that you haven't heard about yet," he said. He would not discuss with a reporter the details of his allegations, saying doing so would compromise classified information and put him at risk of going to jail. He said he "will not confirm or deny" if his allegations involve the illegal use of space systems and satellites.

Tice has a history for blowing the whistle on serious misconduct. He was one of the sources that revealed the administration's warrantless domestic spying program to the New York Times.

'Toons by Dante Lee; use only with permission


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


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"Wires and lights in a box"

Edward R. Murrow became famous throughout America during World War II. His rooftop radio broadcasts painted a vivid picture of the Blitz in a pre-television era. Most certainly, his words made a longer lasting impression than even video from Viet Nam.

It is inaccurate to say that Murrow was unbiased. Clearly, Murrow was a champion of America's lost ideals: individual liberties and rights, truth, free speech, citizen participation. No one doubts that Murrow felt those ideas threatened by Adolph Hitler's Third Reich.

Later, Murrow would feel similarly threatened when our own right wing attacked freedom of speech and free inquiry. It was the McCarthy era, an era not unlike our own —seemingly dominated by those who fear dissent, free speech, open debate, the institutions of a Democratic society. Murrow reacted to McCarthy's threats of surreptitious investigations and attacks on free speech as if they were themselves Nazi bombs that he had earlier described so vividly from the flaming rooftops of London.

Ed Murrow is still with us; he still embodies the very finest that might be found in Western democracies. Unlike our present "leaders" who have exploited and debased the term, Murrow made of Democracy an ideal! Murrow did immeasurably more for the cause of "freedom" than all the GOP/right wing hate and fear mongering had ever done or would ever do. One Murrow is worth one thousand Bushes; one Murrow might not undo the harm done by Bush in Iraq —but his memory might awaken a lost American dream of freedom.

It is with that hope that I post Murrow's very words, excerpts from his prophetic speech to a meeting of the Radio and Television News Director's Association Convention in Chicago. It's as true today as it was on October 15, 1958.

Edward R. Murrow's address to the RTNDA Convention in Chicago, October 15, 1958

This just might do nobody any good. At the end of this discourse a few people may accuse this reporter of fouling his own comfortable nest, and your organization may be accused of having given hospitality to heretical and even dangerous thoughts. But the elaborate structure of networks, advertising agencies and sponsors will not be shaken or altered. It is my desire, if not my duty, to try to talk to you journeymen with some candor about what is happening to radio and television.

I have no technical advice or counsel to offer those of you who labor in this vineyard that produces words and pictures. You will forgive me for not telling you that instruments with which you work are miraculous, that your responsibility is unprecedented or that your aspirations are frequently frustrated. It is not necessary to remind you that the fact that your voice is amplified to the degree where it reaches from one end of the country to the other does not confer upon you greater wisdom or understanding than you possessed when your voice reached only from one end of the bar to the other. All of these things you know.

You should also know at the outset that, in the manner of witnesses before congressional committees, I appear here voluntarily-by invitation-that I am an employee of the Columbia Broadcasting System, that I am neither an officer nor a director of that corporation and that these remarks are of a "do-it-yourself" nature. If what I have to say is responsible, then I alone am responsible for the saying of it. Seeking neither approbation from my employers, nor new sponsors, nor acclaim from the critics of radio and television, I cannot well be disappointed. Believing that potentially the commercial system of broadcasting as practiced in this country is the best and freest yet devised, I have decided to express my concern about what I believe to be happening to radio and television. These instruments have been good to me beyond my due. There exists in mind no reasonable grounds for personal complaint. I have no feud, either with my employers, any sponsors, or with the professional critics of radio and television. But I am seized with an abiding fear regarding what these two instruments are doing to our society, our culture and our heritage.

Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. I invite your attention to the television schedules of all networks between the hours of 8 and 11 p.m., Eastern Time. Here you will find only fleeting and spasmodic reference to the fact that this nation is in mortal danger. There are, it is true, occasional informative programs presented in that intellectual ghetto on Sunday afternoons. But during the daily peak viewing periods, television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world in which we live. If this state of affairs continues, we may alter an advertising slogan to read: LOOK NOW, PAY LATER.

For surely we shall pay for using this most powerful instrument of communication to insulate the citizenry from the hard and demanding realities which must be faced if we are to survive. I mean the word survive literally. If there were to be a competition in indifference, or perhaps in insulation from reality, then Nero and his fiddle, Chamberlain and his umbrella, could not find a place on an early afternoon sustaining show. If Hollywood were to run out of Indians, the program schedules would be mangled beyond all recognition. Then some courageous soul with a small budget might be able to do a documentary telling what, in fact, we have done--and are still doing--to the Indians in this country. ... I have reason to know, as do many of you, that when the evidence on a controversial subject is fairly and calmly presented, the public recognizes it for what it is--an effort to illuminate rather than to agitate....

Our experience was similar with two half-hour programs dealing with cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Both the medical profession and the tobacco industry cooperated in a rather wary fashion. But in the end of the day they were both reasonably content. The subject of radioactive fall-out and the banning of nuclear tests was, and is, highly controversial. But according to what little evidence there is, viewers were prepared to listen to both sides with reason and restraint. This is not said to claim any special or unusual competence in the presentation of controversial subjects, but rather to indicate that timidity in these areas is not warranted by the evidence. ...

Nowhere is this better illustrated than by the fact that the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission publicly prods broadcasters to engage in their legal right to editorialize. Of course, to undertake an editorial policy, overt and clearly labeled, and obviously unsponsored, requires a station or a network to be responsible. Most stations today probably do not have the manpower to assume this responsibility, but the manpower could be recruited. Editorials would not be profitable; if they had a cutting edge, they might even offend. It is much easier, much less troublesome, to use the money-making machine of television and radio merely as a conduit through which to channel anything that is not libelous, obscene or defamatory. In that way one has the illusion of power without responsibility.

... when John Foster Dulles, by personal decree, banned American journalists from going to Communist China, and subsequently offered contradictory explanations, for his fiat the networks entered only a mild protest. Then they apparently forgot the unpleasantness. Can it be that this national industry is content to serve the public interest only with the trickle of news that comes out of Hong Kong, to leave its viewers in ignorance of the cataclysmic changes that are occurring in a nation of six hundred million people? ...

I have no illusions about the difficulties reporting from a dictatorship, but our British and French allies have been better served--in their public interest--with some very useful information from their reporters in Communist China.One of the basic troubles with radio and television news is that both instruments have grown up as an incompatible combination of show business, advertising and news. Each of the three is a rather bizarre and demanding profession. And when you get all three under one roof, the dust never settles. The top management of the networks with a few notable exceptions, has been trained in advertising, research, sales or show business. But by the nature of the corporate structure, they also make the final and crucial decisions having to do with news and public affairs.

Frequently they have neither the time nor the competence to do this. It is not easy for the same small group of men to decide whether to buy a new station for millions of dollars, build a new building, alter the rate card, buy a new Western, sell a soap opera, decide what defensive line to take in connection with the latest Congressional inquiry, how much money to spend on promoting a new program, what additions or deletions should be made in the existing covey or clutch of vice-presidents, and at the same time-- frequently on the same long day--to give mature, thoughtful consideration to the manifold problems that confront those who are charged with the responsibility for news and public affairs.

Sometimes there is a clash between the public interest and the corporate interest. A telephone call or a letter from the proper quarter in Washington is treated rather more seriously than a communication from an irate but not politically potent viewer. It is tempting enough to give away a little air time for frequently irresponsible and unwarranted utterances in an effort to temper the wind of criticism.Upon occasion, economics and editorial judgment are in conflict. And there is no law which says that dollars will be defeated by duty. ...

There is no suggestion here that networks or individual stations should operate as philanthropies. But I can find nothing in the Bill of Rights or the Communications Act which says that they must increase their net profits each year, lest the Republic collapse. I do not suggest that news and information should be subsidized by foundations or private subscriptions. I am aware that the networks have expended, and are expending, very considerable sums of money on public affairs programs from which they cannot hope to receive any financial reward. I have had the privilege at CBS of presiding over a considerable number of such programs. I testify, and am able to stand here and say, that I have never had a program turned down by my superiors because of the money it would cost.But we all know that you cannot reach the potential maximum audience in marginal time with a sustaining program.

This is so because so many stations on the network--any network--will decline to carry it. Every licensee who applies for a grant to operate in the public interest, convenience and necessity makes certain promises as to what he will do in terms of program content. Many recipients of licenses have, in blunt language, welshed on those promises. The money-making machine somehow blunts their memories. The only remedy for this is closer inspection and punitive action by the F.C.C. ...

What, then, is the answer? Do we merely stay in our comfortable nests, concluding that the obligation of these instruments has been discharged when we work at the job of informing the public for a minimum of time? Or do we believe that the preservation of the Republic is a seven-day-a-week job, demanding more awareness, better skills and more perseverance than we have yet contemplated. ...

So the question is this: Are the big corporations who pay the freight for radio and television programs wise to use that time exclusively for the sale of goods and services? Is it in their own interest and that of the stockholders so to do? The sponsor of an hour's television program is not buying merely the six minutes devoted to commercial message. He is determining, within broad limits, the sum total of the impact of the entire hour. If he always, invariably, reaches for the largest possible audience, then this process of insulation, of escape from reality, will continue to be massively financed, and its apologist will continue to make winsome speeches about giving the public what it wants, or "letting the public decide." ...

To a very considerable extent the media of mass communications in a given country reflect the political, economic and social climate in which they flourish. That is the reason ours differ from the British and French, or the Russian and Chinese. We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.I do not advocate that we turn television into a 27-inch wailing wall, where longhairs constantly moan about the state of our culture and our defense. But I would just like to see it reflect occasionally the hard, unyielding realities of the world in which we live. ...

I began by saying that our history will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, then history will take its revenge, and retribution will not limp in catching up with us.We are to a large extent an imitative society. If one or two or three corporations would undertake to devote just a small traction of their advertising appropriation along the lines that I have suggested, the procedure would grow by contagion; the economic burden would be bearable, and there might ensue a most exciting adventure--exposure to ideas and the bringing of reality into the homes of the nation.To those who say people wouldn't look; they wouldn't be interested; they're too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter's opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost.This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful. Stonewall Jackson, who knew something about the use of weapons, is reported to have said, "When war comes, you must draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." The trouble with television is that it is rusting in the scabbard during a battle for survival.
Good night, and good luck!

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Washington Post Theories about Hayden Appointment Are Not Credible

The Washington Post peddles the theory that Hayden is supposed to "rein in" Rumsfeld! Why not just fire Rumsfeld? Letting Hayden run interference compounds the Rumsfeld problem and adds yet another: who will Bush appoint to rein in Hayden?

If the Post is correct, Bush will merely paper over the Rumsfeld problem with another one: a self-avowed expert on widespread domestic spying. Moreover, that Rumsfeld requires "reining in" is the best argument yet for dumping him. In the meantime, Bush — while he still occupies the Oval Office —should find a competent civilian, preferably one who's actually read the Fourth Amendment.

Hayden's appointment may help intelligence czar Negroponte rein in Rumsfeld's military spy plans.

Washington Post Reporter Dana Priest writes:
...intelligence specialists say Hayden's appointment may turn out to be a clever move by intelligence czar John D. Negroponte to help him assert authority over Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his burgeoning intelligence bureaucracy. Negroponte, who by law oversees all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, has expressed frustration that he has not made more progress in managing the agencies under the Defense Department's jurisdiction.
If Priest's story is correct, we're in big trouble. Negroponte was appointed by Bush to be an "intelligence czar" who would task the CIA with managing the spy operations against human beings and that would include operations from inside the Pentagon. Intelligence "experts", cited by Priest, include those who theorize that the Pentagon is resisting supervision by the CIA. The problem is an organizational hierarchy created by Bush himself.

If Bush via Negroponte were really interested in "reining in" Rumsfeld, why not just fire Rumsfeld for incompetence? How about firing Negroponte and abolishing his office?

What has Negroponte brought to the table?

How is this anything more than just another layer of wasteful, big government bureaucracy?

What has Negroponte done that hadn't been done before his office was created? What has he done to justify the additioanl overhead?

Isn't this all just a miserable and failed duplication of effort?

Doesn't this, in fact, violate every known principle of effective management?

In short —wasn't this all just a stupid idea by a failed President?

Does it make sense to appoint a man who has demonstrated —in a belligerent manner —that he has not bothered to read what the Constitution says about "probable cause"? At last, widespread domestic spying is defended by Bush himself; why would Bush engage in arcane cirumlocutions to "rein in" his own policy? Has the Post drunk the Kool-Aid?

Now —a rift between a "civilian" CIA and the military hierarchy under Rumsfeld makes sense. What doesn't make sense is layering over the problem with another militaristic ideologue like Hayden. The simpler solution is to simply appoint a competent, non-partisan civilian with intelligence expertise instead of Hayden. Secondly, fire Donald Rumsfeld.

And as if to prove my point, Priest write:
"The concern about Hayden is not really about Hayden, it's about Rumsfeld and Cheney" said one former senior intelligence officer, referring to Vice President Cheney's strained relationship with the CIA and allegations that he used Pentagon-gathered information on Iraq's weapons because it comported with his personal view on Iraq.
What Bush can do about Cheney, I leave to the reader. The nation, of course, will be better off when both Cheney and Bush are out of power and out of sight.

Again Priest writes:
"Hayden seems to be one of those guys who will, without hesitation, stand up to anyone with whom he disagrees," said Mackubin T. Owens, professor of national security studies at the Naval War College. "He's out of Rumsfeld's reach."
That puts lipstick on a pig. Standing up for what one sincerely believes is one thing. Being too pig headed to see the truth or to admit being wrong is something else again. The best argument against Hayden's appointment is his arrogant, stubborn insistence that what he said about the Fourth Amendment was correct. Here's the text of the exchange:
QUESTION: Jonathan Landay with Knight Ridder. I'd like to stay on the same issue, and that had to do with the standard by which you use to target your wiretaps. I'm no lawyer, but my understanding is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American's right against unlawful searches and seizures. Do you use÷

GEN. HAYDEN: No, actually÷the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure. That's what it says.

QUESTION: But the measure is probable cause, I believe. [the reporter is correct; Hayden is flat wrong!]

GEN. HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.

QUESTION: But does it not say probable÷

GEN. HAYDEN: No. The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure...

GEN. HAYDEN: ... Just to be very clear÷and believe me, if there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth.

—[Thanks to Mark Cripin Miller for publishing the transcript above]
The reporter with Knight Ridder was right; Hayden was flat out, dead wrong! And would not admit it. If Hayden is going to violate the law, he should be expected to have read it. The most successful crooks, after all, are the ones with the better understanding of the law they break. Hayden flunks the successful crook test.

Bush, Impeachment, Domestic Spying

'Toons by Dante Lee; use only with permission


Monday, May 08, 2006

Of Knights and Grinches: How George Bush Stole Christmas and Lost Camelot!

Not too long ago when the United States was at peace, there was a budget surplus, the economy was growing, the unemployment rate was low, and there was hope.

The Census Bureau was able to report that lower and middle income earners had made gains, having lost ground precipitously throughout the back to back Reagan/Bush debacles. For one brief shining moment, a privileged elite was no longer making gains at everyone else's expense. People were optimistic. Peace, if precarious in Palestine, seemed achievable.

But there was trouble in Camelot. An evil plot was hatched. The conspirators would impeach the President and install a modern day Mordred as Der Fuhrer. And they would steal the votes to do it! And, by DieBold and SCOTUS they did!

Not everyone, it seemed, liked peace and prosperity. Some were envious of scholarship and talent. Others were put off by sex —or so they said. Others coveted oil and empire and would murder for it. Even amidst prosperity it was quipped: a Republican is never so miserable as when times are good.

There were teeth grinding grinches who looked down on the whos in whoville and determined then and there that it was time to put an end to the good times. An entire group of people said with one voice: we have a scheme!

Let the rich get richer, they said in codes and propaganda. Let corporations get away with murder; let a never-ending war be started; let the Congress be castrated; pack the court and attack the independent judiciary and let the lobbyists dictate the agenda. Wealth, they knew, would trickle UP! To them!

These grinches were known as "Republicans".

They have all but succeeded:

In normal times it would be obvious that there is something seriously wrong with an entire class that wishes for bad times. And wishing for bad times is bad enough; but, historically, the GOP not only wishes for bad times, it gets them. Let's take a look at the history before it gets re-written:

  • Any Democratic President has presided over greater economic growth and job creation than any Republican President since World War II.

  • When Bush Jr took office, job creation was worst under a Republican, Bush Sr, at 0.6% per year; best under a Democrat, Johnson, at 3.8% per year. The GOP record hasn't gotten any better over the last five years. Senior's record will either stand or be replaced by Jr.

  • Economic growth under President Carter was far greater than under Reagan or Bush Sr. In fact, economic growth in general was greater under Johnson, Kennedy, Carter, and Clinton than under Reagan or Bush.

  • The job creation rate under Clinton was 2.4% significantly higher Ronald Reagan's 2.1% per year.

  • The "top performing Presidents" by this standard, in order from best down, were Johnson, Carter, Clinton, and Kennedy. The "worst" were Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Bush being worst with Reagan in the middle.

  • Half of jobs created under Reagan were in the public sector--some 2 million jobs added to the Federal Bureaucracy. Hadn't he promised to reduce that bureaucracy?

  • Reagan, though promising to reduce government and spending, tripled the national debt and left huge deficits to his successor.

  • By contrast, most of the jobs created on Clinton's watch were in the private sector.

  • Put another way: Any Democratic President chosen at random beats any Republican President chosen at random since World War II.

Even now, however, you will often hear a "grinch" repeat one of the most absurd lies to ever cross the lips of a Republican. That is, the Reagan tax cut of 1982 caused the Clinton prosperity of the middle to late 90's! In effect, we are asked to believe the fairy tale that the bad effects of Reagan's tax cut for the wealthy in 1982 were to be felt in the form of a 16 month recession then, but the "good" effects of the same tax cut were not to be experienced for a full generation later under Clinton! Absurd!

GOP Fairy Tales told to li'l GOP kiddies to help them sleep at night!

Even if it were true that Reagan's tax cut stimulated the economy, the effects adjusted for inflation over some 20 years is negligible. Wealth, we were told, would "trickle down"! But having to wait some 20 years for that to happen is a lousy return on investment. Time is money and lost time is lost money. But the GOP spin machine expects you to buy into their charade.

But Bush's numbers continue to slide into oblivion. He has "negative" coat tails, meaning GOPPERS are running from him. It's already at the point where the GOP would benefit more from his impeachment than would Democrats. Nancy Pelosi promises that, as Speaker of the House, she will use the power of the subpoena to fully investigate Bush's mal-administration. At this point, I would think the Republican party would be happy to see his sorry back side and wince.

And almost as soon as I finished the above post, a highly interesting update appeared:

Bush approval rating hits new low of 31%

Only four presidents have scored lower

By Susan Page, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — President Bush's approval rating has slumped to 31% in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, the lowest of his presidency and a warning sign for Republicans in the November elections.

The survey of 1,013 adults, taken Friday through Sunday, shows Bush's standing down by 3 percentage points in a single week. His disapproval rating also reached a record: 65%. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points.

'Toons by Dante Lee; use only with permission


Sunday, May 07, 2006

GOP Pollster: "This administration may be over"

The GOP may be hoping Democrats will press for impeachment. It would save them the dirty work of cleaning up their own party. One wonders if the GOP is spooked less by impeachment threats than the truth that will come out should Democrats regain control of congress. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi promised that as Speaker of the House, she would use the power of the subpoena to get to the truth about Bush's decision to wage war on Iraq.

Dare we hope that all the dirt will be revealed? And what revelations it will be! Think of the subpoenas —the records of Dick Cheney's super secret meetings with Enron, Exxon-Mobil et al. Every hole in the official 911 conspiracy theory might be plugged. We might learn how building 7 was readied for a controlled demolition inside of an hour when such a precise job normally takes weeks of careful preparation by experts. We might learn what Bush knew about Saddam's weaponry though he pressed for war against Iraq anyway.

In short, dare we hope that the truth about treason and subversion in high places might be revealed to the world?

Concurrently, there are suggestions that the GOP impeach Bush, jettisoning the baggage in time for the mid-terms. According to the Washington Post, notable GOP pollsters have all but pronounced the Bush "Presidency" caput.
Pollster Suggests Bush Moves Might Be Too Little, Too Late

By Eric Pianin and Chris Cillizza

The recent White House shake-up was an attempt to jump-start the administration and boost President Bush's rock-bottom approval ratings, but have those efforts come too late to salvage the presidency? A prominent GOP pollster thinks that may be the case.

"This administration may be over," Lance Tarrance, a chief architect of the Republicans' 1960s and '70s Southern strategy, told a gathering of journalists and political wonks last week. "By and large, if you want to be tough about it, the relevancy of this administration on policy may be over."

A new poll by RT Strategies, the firm headed by Tarrance and Democratic pollster Thomas Riehle, shows that 59 percent of Americans disapprove of Bush's job performance, while 36 percent approve —a finding in line with other recent polls.

Tarrance said it would be extremely difficult for any president to bounce back this late in his administration and reassert influence on Capitol Hill when his approval rating barely exceeds his party's base support and half of all adults surveyed said they "strongly disapprove" of his performance. An overwhelming 73 percent of independents disapprove of Bush's performance, and two-thirds of those "strongly disapprove."
A GOP impeachment of Bush may be attractive for yet another reason. At present, GOP candidates are spending time and money running away from Bush. But even jettisoning Bush may not help. After all, Republicans themselves are complicit in Bush's failed big government policies —the exponential increase in the national debt, the exploding deficit, a failed war that Bush refuses to pay for by taxing the very elite rich that have benefited most from it. As John Yewell, writing for Yahoo news, put it: "Whereas the party of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi lacks unity, Republicans have too much."

Bush, Impeachment, Corruption

'Toons by Dante Lee; use only with permission


Bush will militarize the CIA with Hayden appointment

It's not bad enough that Porter Goss politicized the CIA, subverting national security in the bargain. Now George W. Bush wants to militarize the CIA, to make of it a tool of the GOP's corporate sponsors.

Official: Air Force general to be named as Goss replacement

WASHINGTON (AP) - Only hours after he suddenly resigned, the Bush administration is floating the name of a replacement for CIA Director Porter Goss.

A senior official says it's Air Force General Michael Hayden. He's the top deputy to National INtelligence Director John Negroponte and had been considered a contender. The official says there could be an announcement Monday.

Hayden served as National Security Agency director until becoming the nation's Number Two intelligence official one year ago. Since December, he has aggressively defended the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program. Hayden was one of its chief architects.
Naming Hayden to head the CIA is a bone headed idea but only if you love freedom. Hayden's appointment to this position will tend to militarize the CIA.

Secondly, Hayden is not what you would call a bright spark. Bluntly, he's an arrogant dim wit. He's already coughed up varying and contradictory stories about NSA spying on American citizens. As you recall, Bush had said the program only involved "known al Qaeda[s] suspect[s]" making phone calls into the United States from abroad. Well, that turned out to have been yet another Bush lie. The NSA is, in fact, listening in on everyone whether the calls are international or not. Hayden's story, however, differed even from Bush's lie. The General said that one of the ends of an surveilled call must be international but left open the question of whether the supposed Al Qaeda suspect had to be foreign or domestic.

Other writers have stated flatly that Hayden's statements prove that Bush and the NSA knew that they were breaking the laws, going around the NSA in a transparent dodge.

Bush admits that wiretapping occurred without warrants —a clear violation of the 14th Amendment which requires warrants issued only "...upon probable cause". Hayden maintained, however, that the standard was "reasonableness" —not probable cause. That's pure bunk, of course, but Hayden continued to argue about it even when the Fourth Amendment had been quoted to him:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Fourth Amendment, U.S. Constitution

That's plain enough! Why would Hayden —clearly wrong —continue to argue about it?

With a big thanks to Mark Miller, author of Fooled Again and The Bush Dyslexicon, we have the transcript of Hayden's bone-headed insistence that the Fourth Amendment said what he said it said and not what it, in fact, says:
QUESTION: Jonathan Landay with Knight Ridder. I'd like to stay on the same issue, and that had to do with the standard by which you use to target your wiretaps. I'm no lawyer, but my understanding is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American's right against unlawful searches and seizures. Do you use÷

GEN. HAYDEN: No, actually÷the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure. That's what it says.

QUESTION: But the measure is probable cause, I believe. [the reporter is correct; Hayden is flat wrong!]

GEN. HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.

QUESTION: But does it not say probable÷

GEN. HAYDEN: No. The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure...

GEN. HAYDEN: ... Just to be very clear÷and believe me, if there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth.
Uh huh!

Given the contradictory and false statements made by Bush and Hayden on this topic, it is hard not to conclude that Bush has been spying on Americans all along and, as always, trying to justify the crime after the fact.

Earlier Dick Cheney had said that had the NSA program been in place prior to 911, the attacks could have been thwarted! I say the attacks could have been avoided anyway. Clearly —Bush willfully ignored the Aug 6th PDB entitled: Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the United States. There is a plethora of information in the public record to indicate that Bush had plenty of information; he might have prevented the attacks but didn't. Incompetence or criminal complicity?

In fact, operation Able Danger is convincing evidence that if Bush had really wanted to protect Americans, he could have. Able Danger, moreover, was legal. If terrorists could be caught without violating the Constitution, then what is Bush's excuse for doing precisely that? What other, nefarious reason has Bush to spy on Americans, subvert the Constitution, abrogate "due process of law"?

Why, after all was, Able Danger shut down? Was it to avoid revealing to Americans that terrorists could have been caught —but weren't?

CIA, WMD, War on Terror

'Toons by Dante Lee; use only with permission


Goss leaves behind a wrecked CIA

The sudden departure of Porter Goss has refocused attention on the dictatorial nature of the Bush administration —an administration obsessed with control and secrecy. Most importantly, it is an administration obsessed with justifying —ex post facto if necessary —Bush's various crimes. Clearly that was the task that had been assigned to Porter Goss and just as clearly the effort has backfired. Goss leaves behind a weaker CIA and more tragically for the nation — a compromised national security.

That was the thesis of my previous article and, it would seem, that Dana Priest of the Washington Post has come to the same conclusion.

CIA chief leaves behind weaker, demoralized agency

During Porter Goss' tenure, the agency saw an exodus of senior officers and a growing uncertainty over its role in fighting terrorism

By Dana Priest, The Washington Post.

WASHINGTON -- Porter Goss was brought into the CIA to quell what the White House viewed as a partisan insurgency against the administration and to re-energize a spy service that failed to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks or accurately assess Iraq's weapons capability.

But as he walked out the glass doors of the CIA's Langley, Va., headquarters Friday, Goss left behind an agency that current and former intelligence officials say is weaker operationally, with a workforce demoralized by an exodus of senior officers and by uncertainty over its role in fighting terrorism and other intelligence priorities, said current and former intelligence officials.

In public, Goss once acknowledged being "amazed at the workload." Within headquarters, "he never bonded with the workforce," said John Brennan, a former senior CIA official and director of the National Counterterrorism Center until last July.

"Now there's a decline in morale, its capability has not been optimized and there's a hemorrhaging of very good officers," Brennan said. "Turf battles continue" with other parts of the recently reorganized U.S. intelligence community "because there's a lack of clarity and he had no vision or strategy about the CIA's future." Brennan added: "Porter's a dedicated public servant. He was ill-suited for the job."

As a result of all these factors, said these sources and outside experts who work with the CIA, the number of case officers has skyrocketed, but there has been no dramatic improvement in how spies collect intelligence about terrorist targets. ...
I must point out, however, that it was Bush who failed to prevent 911. Bush has the intelligence to act and willfully did not do so.

It was Bush who read and ignored the PDB of August 6th entitled Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the United States!

It was Bush who willfully ignored the warnings of Richard Clark.

It was Bush's state department that warned Taliban representatives —before 911 —that Afghanistan would be carpet bombed if it didn't reach an agreement with U.S. oil companies (Unocal and Exxon-Mobil) on a pipline.

It was Bush's administration that failed to scramble fighters until it was too late.

It was Bush who desparately needed the pretext for war that only an attack on U.S. soil would provide.

It was Bush who was and is willing to compromise American security in order to further a fascist/big oil agenda.

Priest goes on to write that the real battle lines now being drawn are between Negroponte and Donald Rumsfeld. The Bush administration has played politics with this nation's security by appointing war toadies and megalomaniacs to positions of high responsibility. Not content with demoralizing and politicizing the CIA to the detriment of national security, now Bush plays the same game with the Pentagon.

It's all been a tragic disaster for the people of America and the world.

CIA, WMD, War on Terror

'Toons by Dante Lee; use only with permission