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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/6/08

Obama's First Test: Will He Confront Proposed 'New Powers to Spy on Americans'?

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id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5208338511849374578" As the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama faces his first real leadership challenge. The choice is this: Obama will either support or he will oppose GOP attempts to grant George W. Bush and the GOP 'new powers to spy on Americans'. If one is either a part of the solution or a part of the problem, this is Obama's first opportunity to prove himself a part of the solution. [See: National Journal ]

The measure at issue 'immunizes corporations' retroactively for crimes they've already committed. These are giant telecoms who broke the law when it was clearly illegal. Now --the GOP with Democratic complicity --proposes to flout the Constitutional ban on ex post facto law by writing into law a draconian measure that absolves the corporations of responsibility for the laws they've already broken.

The House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat disclosed late Tuesday that he is ready to accept a Republican-brokered deal to rewrite the nation's electronic surveillance laws, signaling that a long-running congressional impasse could soon be coming to an end. House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes told CongressDaily that he is "fine" with language offered by Senate Intelligence ranking member Christopher (Kit) Bond and other Republicans to overhaul the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Notably, the GOP language, which was offered a day before the recent congressional recess, would leave it up to the secret FISA court to grant retroactive legal immunity to telecommunications companies that have helped the Bush administration conduct electronic surveillance on the communications of U.S. citizens without warrants [...] "It's about finding middle ground and we have middle ground," Reyes said of the compromise offered by Republicans. "It's not going to please everyone but let's get on with it." Reyes said he believes enough Democrats will support the proposal to pass it in the House.--House Chairman Open To Republican Compromise On FISA, Congress Daily
Barack Obama could put an end to this today if he wanted. He could tell his colleagues in the House and the Senate that they should not work so hard to codify into law what his opponent is calling for - the ability for an executive to secretly spy on Americans.There is no compelling need for the legislation because there is no compelling need to 'spy on Americans'! We were told that the 'turrsts' were Islamic extremists who just 'hate freedom'. They lived in caves (we were told) and would be 'smoked out' and 'brought to jestice'. None of that has turned out to have been true. Bush was lying then as he continues to lie now. There is not now nor was there ever any rational justification whatsoever for Bush's 'Big Brother' style campaign of domestic surveillance. Bush's case was bullshit then; it is bullshit now.

Listen up, folks: Bush's wars --his 'war on terror' and his war against the people of Iraq --are criminal frauds that were intended to provide cover for his numerous capital crimes, war crimes begun upon the lies he told the American people. Now --the GOP with Democratic support proposes to pass new legislation rewarding the criminal for his crimes!!! The big headline on Time reads: US Justice on Trial at Gitmo! Clearly --if there is no justice at GITMO, there is no justice in America. Will the Congress conspire with Bush and McCain to make of the US Constitution 'just a Goddamned piece of paper'? border="0" That question may be decided --not in a Bush kiss up court, but in the campaign of Barack Obama. Obama has a perfect opportunity to lead a 'revolutionary' wave! By contrast, John McCain will never repudiate Bush, having become of Bush's enablers. John McCain will simply continue the frauds and lies perpetrated upon the American people. Just like Bush, a McCain administration will run its own warrantless wiretapping program! McCain --like Bush --believes an absurd 'theory': the president's wartime powers trump federal criminal statutes and court oversight! It's an absurd theory --bogus on its face! There is no language in the Constitution which may be so construed. Secondly, a 'state of war' does not, cannot exist --under law --until it has been declared by Congress.

Certainly, that is not the case with Iraq. At last, the term 'war on terror' is as nonsensical as the 'war on porn' or the 'war on drugs' or the 'war on Blue Meanies'. It's GOP sloganeering, propaganda, bullshit, nonsense. It is impossible to wage a wage a war upon a tactic or a movement with military methods'. At last, every Bush 'reason' for war has proven to be fraudulent! To cite them, then, in support of additional powers or legislation is just downright absurd, fraudulent, possibly criminal in intent! As there are no legitimate reasons for blanket, warrantless surveillance of Americans, only lies remain. I submit that laws passed upon bald-faced, demonstrable lies are not 'laws; and, in fact, must not be obeyed. To obey the products of crime is, at least, morally reprehensible, it may violate valid laws. The Congress must not abrogate its Constitutional responsibilities. To do so makes 'accomplices' of Bush's hard case support in the Congress. When the war crimes indictments are handed down, the case must be made that his culpable support in congress must share the dock. This week, McCain spokesman Holtz-Eakin issued statements making it clear that McCain's views on warrantless wiretapping are identical to those of George W. Bush --the arch war criminal who came up with them.
Neither the Administration nor the telecoms need apologize for actions that most people, except for the ACLU and the trial lawyers, understand were Constitutional and appropriate in the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001. [...]

We do not know what lies ahead in our nation's fight against radical Islamic extremists, but John McCain will do everything he can to protect Americans from such threats, including asking the telecoms for appropriate assistance to collect intelligence against foreign threats to the United States as authorized by Article II of the Constitution."

The Article II citation is key, since it refers to President Bush's longstanding arguments that the president has nearly unlimited powers during a time of war. The administration's analysis went so far as to say the Fourth Amendment did not apply inside the United States in the fight against terrorism, in one legal opinion from 2001.
I have a message for Holtz-Eakin as well as George W. Bush: the Bush position on 'warrentless surveillance', justified as they are not by law but by Bush's illegal war of naked aggression, will be germane to the war crimes (capital crimes under US CODES: Title 18,2441. War crimes) case against Bush and against McCain should he win and should he continue to prosecute the war. In the addendum, you will find authoritative links to both US Codes and international treaties to which the US is bound.

There is a prima facie case against Bush now. Yet the GOP plots still more crimes against the people. Certainly, a case of complicity in Bush's capital crimes can now be made against members of the Bush administration as well as influential 'neocons', architects of the Bush policy of 'pre-emption', i.e, 'war of aggression'. Certainly, the GOP leadership to include John McCain must be held to account. The American people simply must rise up to demand that Bush and the 'telecoms' apologize for having violated the rights of every American. It is time to organize to investigate, document and prosecute. If corporations persist in breaking the law, then 'corporate pershonhood' --that loop hole that grants them the privileges of 'personhood' without the responsibilities -- then they should be either denied 'corporate personhood' or tried en masse like any individual similarly charged.

The era of corporate privilege must end! Any Federal Judge can, upon his own motion, convene a Grand Jury to hear the case against Bush. Any Grand Jury already convened can upon his own volition subpoena anyone inside the Bush administration now! I urge any such panel to do so. It is time to bring this 'reign of terror' to an end. Certainly, the powers claimed by Bush enabled him to wage war upon the people of the US. He has threatened them with imperious and arbitrary imprisonment, denied them phone calls, habeas corpus, the right of counsel. There is another, precise legal term to describe the actions of a 'government' that wages war upon his citizenry. That word is high treason. In the venerable past, those breaking that law were either hanged or decapitated!McCain's position on widespread domestic surveillance does not differ from the Bush position. Rather than 'going along', the Democrats must draw a line in the sand. Obama must demonstrate now that he is of 'Presidential' material. Obama must demonstrate that he represents change, a breath of fresh air, a new birth of freedom in a country that has been tyrannized --not by 'terrorists' who may or may not exist --but by a criminal junta inside the White House! Now Democrats must stand for change or they become a part of the problem. Indications that they may 'go along' with the McCain/Bush position are ominous. Obama faces a 'dangerous opportunity'. A wrong decision now threatens his campaign at the outset. A correct decision represents an opportunity for both Obama, his future, and that of the nation. A wrong decision will expose the rotten underbelly of the Democratic party. A correct decision will redeem it by saving the nation, all but lost under Bush. We have but one Constitution and, it would appear, but one chance to save it.Additional resources
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Len Hart is a Houston based film/video producer specializing in shorts and full-length documentaries. He is a former major market and network correspondent; credits include CBS, ABC-TV and UPI. He maintains the progressive blog: The (more...)

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