Thursday, March 20, 2008

Detainee Interrogation Bill, Illegal Wiretapping & The Silent Coup

The passage of the Detainee Interogation Bill today has terrible implications for American Democracy. This law- passed by the senate today- among other issues, eliminates the most fundamental premise of the American constitution; i.e. the writ of habeaus corpus. This writ guarantees that individuals will have the right to a trial and NOT be arbitrarily detained without a day in court. For shame...
[The House resolution is HR 6166. The Senate bill is S 3930.]

In addition, the House has passed a bill that would legalize the illegal domestic wiretapping program in the US. This is also terrible; Amy & David Goodman comment on this issue in their book Static-
" There has long been a legal way to monitor the electronic communications of Americans: Obtain a warrant from the secret court authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The warrants are readily given as Russel Tice [NSA whistle-blower] explains "I kinda liken the FISA court to a monkey with a rubber stamp....It just stamps 'affirmed'...and banana chip rolls out, and then the next paper rolls in front of the monkey. When you have like twenty thousand [eavesdropping] requests and only, I think, four were turned down, you can't look at the FISA court as anything different."
He continued, "So, you have to ask yourself the question: Why would someone want to go around the FISA court in something like this? I would think the answer could be that this think is a lot bigger than even the president has been told it is, and that ultimately a vacuum cleaner approach may have been used....That's ultimately why you wouldn't go to the FISA court." "
[The House bill is H.R. 5825; the Senate bill is S. 3931.]

The Silent Coup
Op-Ed, Nausherwan Hafeez, 9-28-06

Ever since the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in the landmark Hamdan v Rumsfeld case- which, in effect, put a check on the Bush administrations ability to detain prisoners indefinitely- civil liberty groups have hailed the success of our judiciary system in its move to check the powers of our President.

Undeterred, President Bush made it clear that he would go above the judiciary to receive approval for how detainees held by the US can be treated. He was able to circumvent the courts and receive approval of the Detainee Interrogation Bill from Congress after a charade of compromise. This “compromise” was pushed for by three Republican senators who felt that allowing the President the ability to revoke the writ of habeas corpus and reinterpret the Geneva Conventions went beyond the Presidential mandate; however, through closed door political wrangling, the President was able to receive essentially everything he was asking for. In an election season, no member of Congress wanted to seem weak on security. Consequently, the largely-unimpeded abrogation of the fundamental legal premise of habeas corpus-i.e. protection from indefinite detainment without trial- has further undermined our constitution and will prove to be a Faustian deal in years to come.

Ultimately, a coup has occurred in the American system of federalism; Congress has rubber stamped away its authority to President Bush. How far will our constitution be destroyed in the name of "security"?

This post was originally posted by me on facebook on Thursday, September 28, 2006

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