Year end is a good time to look back and reflect on what's ahead. If past is prologue, however, the outlook isn't good, and nothing on the horizon suggests otherwise. Voters last November wanted change but got betrayal from the bipartisan criminal class in Washington. Their attitude shows in an October Reuters/Zogby (RZ) opinion poll with George Bush at 24% that tops Richard Nixon's worst showing of 25% at his lowest 1974 Watergate point. And if that looks bad, consider Congress with "The Hill" reporting from the same RZ Index that our legislators scored a "staggering 11%, the lowest (congressional) rating in history," but there's room yet to hit bottom and a year left to do it. Why not with lawmakers' consistent voter sellout and failure record that keeps getting worse.
It's been that way ever since 9/11 with both sides of the aisle complicit with the administration. This article looks back at the record, and year end is a good time to review it. It's hard imagining another as bad with a President defiling the law and once telling Republican colleagues the Constitution is "just a goddamned piece of paper."
He didn't just say it. He governs by it, gets away with it, and former Defense Department analyst Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame, says "a coup has occurred (with another to come from) the next 9/11....that completes the first (that's) seen a steady assault on every fundamental (aspect) of our Constitution (to create) an executive government (to) rule by decree" no different from a police state.
Author Naomi Wolf spells it out in her April, 2007 Guardian article - "Fascist America, In 10 Easy Steps." In it, she argues the Bush administration is following the same script any "would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms," and she lists them. They range from "invoking a terrifying internal and external enemy" to "creat(ing) a gulag" to spying on everyone to harassing opposition to controlling the media to calling dissent treason to "suspend(ing) the rule of law." She also notes how much "simpler" it is to shut down democracy than "to create and sustain" it, and that's today's threat.
It's not with jackboots in the streets but by a steady "process of erosion" with the public largely unaware and distracted by media mind manipulators. It's happening today, and Wolf sounds the alarm with the words of James Madison saying "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands....is the definition of tyranny," and that's the condition now in America. This article reviews the record for the past seven years. It's not pretty.
Even the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, (unlike every Pope in memory) condemned it in a wide-ranging UK Muslim magazine interview. It was quoted in a November 25 Sunday Times column headlined "US is 'worst' imperialist" and wields its power more reprehensibly than Britain ever did in its heyday. He explained that American overseas adventurism led to "the worst of all worlds" and expressed pessimism about the current state of western civilization and Washington's own misguided sense of mission.
He critiqued the "war on terror" and stated America lost the moral high ground post-9/11 and needs to launch a "generous and intelligent programme of aid to the (nations it) ravaged;....check (its) economic exploitation of defeated territories" and demilitarize them. He called the West fundamentally adrift and our "definition of humanity (isn't) working." He denounced America's violence and belief it can solve problems left for "other people (to clean up and) put....back together - Iraq, for example." Another is the condition at home.
Since taking office in January, 2001, George Bush signed a blizzard of Executive Orders and attached dozens of "signing statements" to hundreds of law provisions even though nothing in the Constitution allows this practice, and the Supreme Court banned line-item vetos. He continues to do it while Congress and the courts condone his claiming unconstitutional "unitary executive" authority to ignore the law and do as he pleases in the name of "national security" on his say alone.
It began on 9/11 when George Bush addressed the nation and declared a "war on terrorism," asked for world support to win it, and began what became "our government's emergency (preventive war strategy) response plans." The scheme was to ignore the law, go to war, and destroy our civil liberties to keep us safe from "rogue states, 'bad guys,' and evil-doers" throughout an "arc of instability" from the South American Andean region (mainly Colombia) to North Africa through the Middle East to the Philippines, Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia. Congress as well acted right out of the box with two audacious resolutions that surrendered its authority to the executive, allowed him to proceed, and signaled what would come.
The first one came September 18, 2001 in a joint "House-Senate Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF)" that authorized "the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States." A second followed in the October, 2002 "Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of the United States Armed Forces Against Iraq," and the rest is history. This article reviews other key congressional legislation to the present along with George Bush's blatant abuse of presidential power.
His first action came November 13, 2001 when he issued Military Order Number 1 that one analyst called a "coup d'etat," and "watershed moment in (the) country," that was a hint of what would follow. This order violated the spirit and letter of a civil society under constitutional law with a firewall separating it from the military. No longer, and it got worse later on when its provisions resurfaced by act of Congress. That's discussed below. First, Military Order Number 1 and what's in it:
-- it let the President usurp authority to capture, kidnap or otherwise arrest any non-citizens (and later citizens as well) anywhere in the world if he claims they're involved in international terrorism and to hold them indefinitely without charge, evidence or allowing them due process in a court of law.
-- however, IF trials are allowed, they would be by special ad hoc "military commissions," not civil courts and in secret, with evidence obtained by torture allowed, those found guilty given no right of appeal, and they can be secretly executed.
-- no civil court has authority in these cases even if victims are identified and legal counsel wishes to represent them.
Few knew then that on November 13, 2001 US citizens lost their civil liberties, but that would come out later on. It's still ongoing with Congress and the courts complicit in the willful destruction of our democracy that was already on life support. Today, it's gone.