Wednesday, December 28, 2005



by Brian and Kyle

As a continuation of Eli's previous post about NSI wire tapping,
and as a prologue to our own, we offer the following article from the the online version of the Boston Globe.

That aside, we would ask the following question. How can you tell when a Republican is in trouble? Easy. They start to complain about William Jefferson Clinton. We're sorry, but using past abuses to justify current abuses on an even larger and more ominous scale is not an acceptable excuse nor an an appropriate debating tactic.

This may come as a shock and revelation to the far right, but the President of the United States is not a king; he does not have the right to break laws left, right, and center based on whatever whim or internal impulse he may be feeling at a particular moment in time. We are not living in Jolly Olde England where monarchs claim the divine rights of kings, although the second Bush is our George III.*

Contrary to popular belief, the President is the Commander and Chief of the United States Military, not of the entire United States; and while there may be certain individuals out there who are comfortable with the idea of a military dictatorship, the fact of the matter is that the President is not entitled to select which laws he will or will not obey. Nor does he have the right to trample on the Constitution which he swore to uphold and defend.

The manner in which Bush handled this situation is little more than another reflection of his emotional and intellectual immaturity. Had he wanted, he could have ordered the wire/email taps, and then gone to the very friendly FISA* court and obtained permission ex post facto. But he didn't do that. Instead, he behaved as if the power of all three branches of government were concentrated in his very covetous hands. Instead of handling the manner in a legal and orderly manner, Bush decided that the only way to proceed was in a contrarian manner that concentrated still more power in the office of the presidency.**

For some time now a few of us around here have wondered if this president hadn't substituted his addiction to drugs and alcohol with an addiction to religion and personal power. And with each passing month, with each new scandal, he reveals the same addictive personality traits that he had while he was an active alcoholic.

Ironically, Bush undoubtedly knew that he had broken the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). When the scandal broke, the Demander and Thief initially lied , claiming that wiretaps had not taken place. Then, when the evidence proved otherwise, he lied again, this time through the sin of omission, by concealing how extensive the surveillance had actually been.

So why is this a problem? Why should be worrying when a president claims that he is invading our personal privacy to "protect us?"

On Monday, December 26, a CNN viewer suggested that the worst we had to worry about was the government obtaining our aunt's favorite cookie recipe. This is nothing more than a bizarre variation on the idea that we don't have anything to worry about unless we're doing something wrong, a favorite claim of totalitarian regimes on both the left and the right. But the fact of the matter is that illegal surveillance really does present a threat to freedom of speech in general. This is not about our Aunt Minnie's chocolate chip cookies. This is about the federal government creating an atmosphere in which the American people will self-censor legitimate speech-- a climate in which the citizenry will self-repress political expression out of a fear that the government will take retaliatory action.
It isn't as if this hasn't happened before. During the 1960s the Powers That Be obtained personal information on Martin Luther King and then fed the information to the press and to King's wife. During the same period the CIA infiltrated peace groups and committed acts of violence in a clandestine effort to marginalize the groups they had infiltrated; President Richard Nixon (a paranoiac if ever there was one) never forgot a political enemy and had no problem when it came to seeking revenge, ad nauseam.

The upshot here is that in addition to creating a climate in which freedom of speech and political expression are stifled. Surveillance such as the type Bush finds acceptable, invariably leads to violations of personal liberties, underhanded tactics, and (s)hit lists which are based more on political beliefs and affiliations than national security. We don't know about you, but it seems to us that J Edgar Hoover, LBJ, Richard Nixon, Alberto Gonzalez, and George W. Bush are not proper role models when it comes to the proper use of intelligence.

Let's not forget that around the same time the surveillance scandal broke we had also learned about FBI investigations of environmental groups, vegans, a Catholic peace organization in Iowa, and a group of Quakers in Colorado. (Yup, that's what we're really worried about--all those pistol-packing Quakers who might decide start an armed rebellion against the Federal government! Gawd!)

In other words, the FBI is now investigating and infiltrating domestic groups and individuals which speak out against business interests and Bush Administration policies. The message could not be more clear. Do not speak your mind; do not try to educate the public in any way shape or form or you will find yourself on the receiving end of federal surveillance.

To this, I'm sure that the Bush Regime would repeat the point that that we don't have anything to worry about if we aren't doing anything wrong, but that ignores past abuses of power which suggest that the Powers That Be have a very broad and often paranoid outlook on the situation, which all too often leads to the investigation of innocent groups and individuals--a condition which doesn't seem to bother the Bush Regime in the least. ***

*You just have to wonder: If Bush and his Neocon advisors had been alive in 1776, on which side they would have fought on during the American Revolution? From their love for secrecy, to their craving for presidential power, to their contempt for legislative bodies and courts, this administration seems to be more in tune with the Monarchy of King George III than it is with the American Patriots who fought for Independence.

And that's a frightening revelation. During the late 18th Century, the American Colonists were willing to speak out against tyranny and fight for their independence, knowing ful well that their actions might eventually lead them to the gallows or the firing squad. Would that the current generation of "conservatives" were as concerned about personal liberty. In sacrificing privacy they have in effect taken the heroic cry of "Give me liberty or give me death" and bastardized it into a cowardly whimper of "take my liberty to save my sorry ass." On other words, they are perfectly willing to give up freedom for security. On a certain level this is understandable (no one after all wants to die). but in another way it reveals how far this country has devolved since the Revolution and the framing of the Constitution. In a remark often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the patriots and framers of the late 18th Century warned us about "those who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security," and how they deserved "neither liberty nor security."

Today it seems as if a lot of Americans haven't been paying too much attention to warnings from the 18th Century.


Indeed, the FISA Court is so friendly that it seldom, if ever, denies a request, which leaves you wondering why the Administration wou;don't have gone through the proper channels if it weren't more interested in acquiring power than protecting the American people.

***To complicate the matter even further, Bush regime apologists often suggest the Civil and Cold Wars as excuses for the suspension of civil liberties, but these were finite wars. In each case there was a clear winner and a clear loser, and distinct point in time at which historians could say "this is when this particular war ended." By the Bush Regime's own admission, we do not know when this war will end. There will be no formal capitulation, no specific date at which we can say "this is when the War on Terror came to an end." It could go on for twenty, fifty, or even a hundred years. The idea of raising entire generations of children who accept an Imperial Presidency and a limitation of Constitutional rights is not a comforting thought.


Rhino-itall said...

I find it kind of funny how you guys just ignore actual facts. The president didn't break any laws. FACT. Clinton didn't break the law when he did it, nor did Reagan when he did it, nor did carter, when he did the exact same thing.
Your point about knowing when a war will end is ridiculous at best. Of course HISTORIANS can point to a specific time when these wars ended, but at the time, when they were going on NO ONE NEW WHEN IT WOULD END. So for example, when FDR rounded up thousands of U.S. CITIZENS and put them in camps, he didn't know when WWII would end, they were there indefinitely! Your political blindness doesn't let you see the facts. The enemy isn't just "over there" wearing a uniform, digging trenches, setting up command posts. The enemy has infiltrated the U.S. They launched 4 attacks on our soil already, 2 on the world trade center, all from bases in the U.S. The NSA is doing it's job, the President is doing his job trying to protect us. You would rather see a nuclear bomb detonated in the middle of chicago than wire tap the phones of jose padilla? His plot was to detonate "dirty bombs" in chicago apartment buildings! What if he had succeeded? What if we had tapped the phones of suspected terrorists after the '92 trade center attacks? maybe we could have prevented the next one?

YodaMouse said...


I lived in the Soviet Union untill I was 8 years old, at which time my mother risked summary execution to flee to Austira. When I was 11 year old we were given the status of "Political Refugee" in America. (I won't tell you my life story but that should give you an idea of my prespective.)

Just because we call the US a democracy, does not automatically make it a good place to live. The USSR had one of the most progressive, awe inspiring constitutions in history. It did not stop Stalin from slaughtering millions of people. In the same spirit, it is not the Constitution of the United States that keeps this country a relatively pleasant place to live.

Instead it is the judicious use of power and the self-restraint of those whom we elect into positions of power within this country. Once elected, a corrupt official has the power to pervert and twist the laws of our nation to whatever he/she sees fit. No constitution in the world is strong enough to stop it.

I think that Democrats and moderates in general are scared as hell because in recent memory, no president has so blatantly gone against the grain of society. Bottom line is that if Bush decides to ignore FISA, no one can really stop him.

Personally, I dislike both the Republican and Democratic parties. By joining a party, people feel that they're part of the political process. It blinds them to the fact that just because you identify with one set of ideas or another, it doesn't mean that politicians are screwing you in general.

A great example is the polarization of the country. The Republicans hated Clinton and the Democrats now hate Bush. Everyone is so concerned with hating their respective foes, neither realizes that America is becoming less of a free nation.

I honestly don't have the time to cite specific laws which have been enacted in the past 15 years, but as someone who comes from a highly opressed society, I do notice a lot that Americans dont.

A quick example is the uniform law that allows police in most states to arrest children who are truant from school. This was not the law when I went to High School. Back then, most of us would have been horrified at the though of cops arresting us for being off campus. In fact, those of us in a multi-track system would have been really screwed.

Anyhow, I hope that this is good food for though... What do you think?

Advocate1 said...

Well said YodaMouse.

I am the adopted son of a Volga German family. My late grandfather came here from Russia in 1912. My grandmother joined him in 1914 just before the outbreak of World War I. Both spoke fluent German, Russia being their second language despite the fact that they had come from Tsarist Russia.

To make a long story short, the Volga Germans were a large group of Germans who Catherine The Great imported from her native Germany to (and I just "love" this) raise the cultural and professional level of her new Russian subjects. On paper it sounded like a halfway decent idea, but it never exactly worked. The Russians and Germans never really mixed and the Germans formed their own little enclave along the southern banks of the Volga River. Later, under Lenin, it was forged into a very temporary Socialistic Republic. After a long term struggle with the Russian Orthodox Church, droughts, famines, disease, and Lenin, they were brutally liquidated by Stalin. In other words, several branches of my adoptive family were liquidated despite a written constitution.

As YodaMouse has already suggested, the Soviet Constitution was one of the most freedom-embracing documents in European history, but it was never put into practice--unless of course you consider purges, pogroms, and outright ethnic cleansing to be enlightened practices.

If a leader fails to embrace or openly violates the provisions of a written constitution and then claims the abuses were Constitutional then you have a real problem.

I'm sure that some people in today's society would be more than willing to suspend the Constitution, postpone elections, and declare martial law in the hope that it would make them safer and I'm sure they would be able to construct (not find in the Constitution) a "constitutional" reason for their repression of civil rights, but that would hardly be acting as freedom loving Americans.

YodaMouse said...

Advocate, you've touched on a point which has troubled me for quite some time now.

I hear so much talk about banning violent video games, restricting reading material that children have access to, and other sorts of limitations imposed by the government.

People don't realize that censorship--even self imposed censorship--however benign it may seem, lays the foundation for restriction of freedom of speech.

It's sort of like cigarettes, which are often refered to as "gateway drugs". They call them that because the jump from smoking cigarettes to smoking something illegal is smaller than the jump from being a addiction-free person.

In the same way, I feel that incremental and restrained laws which seem harmless can in the long run bridge the gap needed for legistlation that can be truly oppressive.

Honestly, I'm a fairly well off, established individual. I don't believe that there is any change that the U.S. could go through that I couldn't weather without a problem.

Any time I want, I can grab my passport and be offered citizenship in half a dozen tropical countries.

I just think it would be a shame if the U.S. turned into a place I had to leave.

Advocate1 said...

So much of the repression in today's society can be traced to one thing:

A fear of death.

Brandon and the rest of the crew have touched on this point before, so I'm sure they won't mind if I pick up the ball and run with it for awhile.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s I got a kick out of Christian radio--it always helps to listen to someone who's more messed up than you can ever possibly be. At times it was outraging. On other occasions they were absolutely hysterical. The unintentional humor arising from some of these would be theocrats was actually quite funny. (My favorite was the bottom of the dial evangelist who compared the holy spirit to onion rings and burping, but that's another issue.)

Two things, however stood out. Almost invariably, these people talked about their devout and certain faith in Jesus. I really can't say how often these people talked about their salvation because they reapted the point so often. They knew they were going to die, go to Heaven, and meet Jesus. On other occasions they would complain about the power of the evil, federal government and how our government was a threat to our civil liberties. But after 911, the same people who had been making the same arguments about Jesus were the same people who asked the Federal government to take away their civil liberties so they wouldn't be forced to put their face to a test. To paraphrase Brandon, their new battle cry became something akin to "Federal government, please take away our civil liberties so that we won't have to meet Jesus." The self contradiction was amazing, and they changed course without so much as a wink or a nod.

The upshot here is that you can burn the Constitution, take away every civil liberty that we have enjoyed for more than 200 years, and guess what?


And I have more bad news for the would be anal repressives (hmmmm....I like that term). Not only are we going to DIE...unless we're zonked out out expensive pain-killing prescriptions (which the war on drugs is making harder to obtain for legitimate purposes), it's probably going to HURT.

Well, if we're all going to die, and if it's going to hurtm and if abolishing civil liberties will only create a situation in which are both, repressed and mortal, we might as well live in a situation in which we are at least mortal and living in a state of freedom.

Just food for thought.