Monday, July 31, 2006

Specter's FISA bill - Neutering the Constitution

Conservatives are like zombies,
brainless and senseless.

After reading Roy's post "On Being Human" last night I decided I wasn't going to do a political post today. I really wasn't. I swear. Like everyone else, I'm sick of staring into the whirling blades of the political shit fan. Then I read "Echoes of the Nixon era" posted at Salon this morning. It's so disturbing, well ... I just had to write about it. I'll give you 3 seconds to scram, go watch some funny dogs or something ... 3-2-1 ... otherwise, if you want to know what's trying to totally change your world ... proceed at your own risk.

Just after the Supreme Court finally ruled against the administration for something, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, Senator Arlen Specter proposes a bill (S. 2543 - the National Security Surveillance Act) that would permanently put the office of president above and beyond the law. If passed the President of the United States would be replaced by an executive branch whose "president" would answer to no one and be accountable for nothing Instead the "president" would be a completely free agent, a dictator at liberty to do whatever he wants in complete, total, and impenetrable secret.

Bush and Senator Arlen Specter

It doesn't matter that Bush is on his way out.

He was just a place holder anyway, a lure to attract evangelicals. The real power brokers in D.C. are groups like the Project for the New American Century which has been around since the middle of the 20th century and plans to rule the entire 21st. Big surprise, its members include guys like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Dan Quayle. They only make cameo appearances on the main stage to set things up, then it's back to the shadows where they can best do their nefarious deeds. At this point they must feel pretty confident that whoever steps into the presidency next will do their bidding. Why not? Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Specter's bill requires that...
"all pending cases challenging the legality of the NSA program be transferred to the secret FISA court, if the attorney general so desires, which he will. Second, it makes judicial review of the administration's behavior virtually impossible, as it specifically prohibits, in Sec. 702(b)(2), the FISA court from "requir(ing) the disclosure of national security information ... without the approval of the Director of National Intelligence of the Attorney General." That all but prevents any discovery in these lawsuits. Third, it authorizes, in Sec. 702(b)(6), the FISA court to "dismiss a challenge to the legality of an electronic surveillance program for any reason." Arguably, that provision broadens the authority of the court to dismiss any such lawsuit for the most discretionary of reasons, even beyond the already wide parameters of the "state secrets" doctrine."
Chilling and surreal but unfortunately all too real. In this article Greenwald writes that...
"worst thing that Specter's bill would do is place the president's FISA decisions beyond any kind of meaningful judicial review forever, and immunize the Bush administration from any real scrutiny of the legality and constitutionality of its conduct."
If this bill gets passed we might as well change the, "In God we trust" to, "In Secret Government we trust" and add the old motto of Germany's SS, "My honor is called loyalty."

We may be powerless to stop what going on but we danm sure won't able to do anything about it if we chose to remain ignorant about what's going on. As Greenwald concludes...
"It is one thing for specific warrant applications to be conducted in secret, with only one side present, and with even the decision itself always sealed from the public -- the standard operating procedures for the FISA court. But those procedures are plainly inappropriate for deciding critical questions of constitutional law that determine the protections guaranteed by the Bill of Rights to all Americans against the government. The parameters of the Fourth Amendment and decisions as to whether our highest government officials have been continuously violating it cannot possibly be determined in secret and then kept secret from American citizens. Yet the Specter bill would ensure exactly that disturbing, and quite extraordinary, result."

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