City of Roses
I honestly don't see the big deal, guys. We're talking about scrutinizing the actions of politicians to insure they are within acceptable parameters. When did that become a conspiracy? If they don't pass scrutiny, we'll have strengthened our country by making sure it doesn't continue. If they do pass scrutiny, if no fault is found, then no harm is done.?
Look, there are many Attorney Generals in recent history who have been caught up in notorious or at least questionable situations. Under the Reagan Era, Edwin Meese was highly involved in the Iran-Contra Affair and his legacy remains tainted by that episode. Under the Nixon Era, John Newton Mitchell became the first US Attorney General ever to be convicted and imprisoned due to his role in the Watergate break-in and cover-up. And under the Clinton Era, as has already been noted, Janet Reno and her poor leadership in the Waco incident.
Certainly I think we'd all like to keep those like Meese and Mitchell and Reno from again pervading these institutions and making a mockery of the judicial and executive power structures for political or superficial means. And I defend my belief that Gonzales has abused his power as well in heart, but I certainly believe he should be offered fair scrutiny organized in a bi-partisan manner.
Through all the partisanship, it is often forgotten that there is another problem here. This administration claims an unprecedented amount of and seeks to increase executive power over the other two branches.
Now, if you agree with the expansion, well, I suppose it makes sense to blame everything on dems and ignore all the complaints coming from the paleo-conservative and libertarian crowd.
I haven't forgotten, Brad, and that is exactly what's humming flourescently in my head when I started several particular posts in the past here around warrantless wiretapping, the John Yoo memo and the mass readings of e-mail and other personal information in particular.
I certainly agree some concerns of civil liberty erosions are exaggerated and propagandized just like threats of terrorism are sometimes, and as I've stated constantly before I believe neither of the two parties that make up our duopoly are divorced of those kind of propagandized scare tactics. However, I believe when most Americans do believe we are heading in the wrong direction, and do believe the scope of executive power is being exceeded and taken too far, Americans have the right to be upset and question our liberties are under attack.
June 15, 2006 Department of Defense Letter (In Response To January 5, 2006 FOIA Request)
One such example where I believe there is right to be concern is, as previously noted, revealed in this transcript of a letter from the Department of Defense as requested under a Freedom of Information Act response, and according to this transcript, the DOD appeared to admit to some degree that they have monitored a much wider spectrum of student organizations than was earlier acknowledged. Their admissions included conducting surveillance of groups protesting the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy for gays and lesbians in the armed forces, as well as students protesting the war at State University of New York at Albany, William Paterson University in New Jersey, Southern Connecticut State University and the University of California at Berkeley (the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement), despite NONE of the reports in the documentation indicating any terrorist activity by the students who were monitored.
What you just brought up also hummed in my head (and, as you said, the heads of many traditional conservatives and libertarians as well) the Military Commissions Act of last year, which basically argues that: "The president has the authority for the United States to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions."
To put it another way, the central question of what CIA interrogators may do to suspects who might be innocent would be determined not by law but by the president himself, and that the president would have to release publicly those executive orders when he issues them. And though the final deal explicitly states the definition of torture as "severe physical or mental pain and suffering", it also seems to leave open the door ajar on alternative interrogation techniques such as waterboarding.
So the upshoot of that deal is that torture is not prohibited, and really leaves the president with a wide scope of executive power. Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor from George Washington University I thought gave a great analogy, where this is like "telling a teenager that I don‘t want you driving at 90 miles an hour" and then he thinks "Gosh, I can live with that, I‘d go to 89!"
This also gives an earlier torture memo some legitimacy, where Alberto Gonzales said in that memo that that they could do anything short of organ failure or death. And when you bundle it all up with that John Yoo memo following the September 11th attacks that basically suggested that the president could do anything he wants as long as he's fighting terrorism, it leaves our international law and treaties vulnerable to grave violations and moral cavities.
Moreover, in this case, the Geneva Convention cannot be cited in a federal case or trial. In terms of democracy, it basically tells everyone, "You can look, but you can't touch and you can't play!" You also can't cite international sources in foreign cases under this.
It's exactly bills like that that reiterate why we have become so unpopular in the international community recently, and why again I speak out when I learn of such things. The bottom line is, I don't care who is in office, or what party the person in office is affliated with, or what shoe size that person has, or what that person's Junior League batting average was. I feel in heart when any such individual is attempting any such power grab or expansion of executive powet that undermines our checks and balances and democratic cornerstones, I have an obligatory conscience to speak out, and while it may seem I'm particularly tough toward this current administration in that I didn't start participating in discussions here until shortly after the war in Iraq began in March of 2003, I assure others here I would do just likewise should a Democratic president be elected in 2008 or any year in the near future when he/she attempts just that same sort of thing, or any form of immense corruption as I have already denounced of William Jefferson and his frozen chump change, or Jack Murtha and his Abscam days, or Alsea Hastings and his history of corruption, etc.
Cox Washington: July 30, 2006
The American Chronicle: March 21, 2007
Others can scoff at these concerns as "constant Democrat attacks" or "personal, biased rhetoric" as they wish, but I cannot betray my conscience when it feels that something is wrong with the picture, and I know I'm certainly not alone when I hear from conservatives and libertarians like Bruce Fein, John Dean, William Buckley, David Keene, Richard Viguerie and Ron Paul among many others have spoken out arguably even more audibly than I have on the exact same sort of thing; denouncing any sort of presidential power grab.
"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"