The perverse and perilous paradox of this presidency is that the more Bush and Cheney fail, the more they succeed. (See my article "Fighting Terror with Terror.")
Bush parlayed his criminal failure to protect and come to the rescue of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast due to Hurricane Katrina into getting Congress to pass in September 2007 the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007.
The Warner Act abrogates the Posse Comitatus Act (the Civil War law that prohibits the use of federal troops in domestic affairs) and gives the President the power to declare, on his own say so, a "public emergency" and carry out mass roundups, arrests and detentions.
All Bush and Cheney need do, in other words, to nullify their record level of unpopularity is allow - or merely fail to prevent - another 9/11 attack (the attack that Bush warns of in the article below.)
If they once again fail to prevent a terrorist attack as they did on 9/11, they will then undoubtedly get their grandest wish: unfettered executive powers.
The reason that this perverse paradox works is because their "war on terror" rests upon a specific, immoral logic - the idea that Americans' lives are more precious than that of Afghanis or Iraqis or Iranians or Pakistanis and that that it is necessary, and justifiable, to do anything to "protect American lives," including torture, mass murder, surveillance of all of us, and so on.
So long as the logic of this rationale remains unchallenged, Bush and Cheney - and their successors (McCain, Obama or Clinton and so on) - will succeed in consolidating virtually all power in the executive branch, accountable to no one and to no law. Anything and everything can be justified according to this reactionary, national chauvinist logic. The Bill of Rights, US Constitution, Geneva Conventions, international law and the UN Charter be damned. Nothing must or will stand in their way.
The Democrats - and Obama and Clinton in particular - have made it clear that they do not question the logic of this vicious rationale. Where is the talk in Pennsylvania between Barack and Hillary right now about the recent revelations of how from the very top levels of the White House, torture was plotted? Why are the Democrats mum about this? What kind of leaders are these? What right do they have to say that they should lead this country and we should support and vote for them when they haven't stopped the torture? Obama can say all he wants that he will shut down Gitmo, but why hasn't he done this while in the Senate?
Obama and Clinton could have and should have filibustered the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that legalized torture and stripped habeas corpus rights from anyone the president decides is an "enemy combatant." It isn't enough to say you're against something and vote against it, but then allow it to nevertheless pass. This is what a filibuster is for. Even the NY Times said at the time, if you're going to filibuster anything, filibuster this. Since January 2007 the Democrats have had the majority in Congress and all of the leadership posts.
They could have and should have, if they're really against all of this, repealed the MCA and the Warner Act and Patriot Act.
They should have defunded the war. They have had the power to do this. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid hide behind the fig leaf that they don't have the votes to stop the funding and stop the other tyrannies and crimes against humanity of the Bush regime. This is disingenuous in the extreme. They don't even need the votes to turn out their way, the leadership can simply prevent a funding bill from coming to the floor. They could hold hearings that reveal the depravities and atrocities being committed at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib and in Afghanistan and they would have no problem given the impact this would have on public opinion in repealing the fascistic laws that have been passed to enable Bush and Cheney's power grab.
You have to ask yourself, what road are we on? Where is all of this headed? What would you do if you were Bush and Cheney and you had their worldview and their agenda? Would you go quietly into the night? Or would you do what you knew would give you the power you crave? What has been, after all, their entire record up to this point?
You have to ask yourself, why would the very same people who have had all of the power in their hands for years to prevent and expose these crimes - but haven't used it - suddenly, upon getting the presidency, have a moral awakening? If you stand by for years while a murderer and torturer is doing their filthy deeds in full view of you, and you did nothing about it when you had the ability, and thus the blood is on your hands for your failure to act, why would you suddenly have an epiphany when you now occupy the highest office in the land? Even if you did suddenly have an epiphany, wouldn't the obvious question be: why didn't you do something about this back then?
"Bush Warns of the Possibility of Another 9/11"
Big News Network.com
Sunday 13th April, 2008