One of the Real Realities
Although the position of President is important, the folks that are behind the scenes should be the real concern [estimated at about 1500]. These are the people to watch.
Regardless of who is President, they do the real work. It is rare to have them be so candid in public forums. Guess he didn't think he would rise this high...
Eight months before the White House appointed him the Homeland Security Department’s top intelligence official, retired U.S. Army Gen. Patrick M. Hughes told a public forum at Harvard last year that the government would have to “abridge individual rights” and take domestic security measures “not in accordance with our values and traditions” to prevent terrorist attacks in the United States.
...in previously unreported remarks at a March 2003 Harvard University forum on “Future Conditions: The Character and Conduct of War, 2010 and 2020.”
“Set aside what the mass of people think. Some things are so bad for them that you cannot allow them to have them [it is for our own good doncha know]. One of them is war in the context of terrorism in the United States
Therefore, we have to abridge individual rights, change the societal conditions, and act in ways that heretofore were not in accordance with our values and traditions, like giving a police officer or security official the right to search you without a judicial finding of probable cause
Things are changing, and this change is happening because things can be brought to us that we cannot afford to absorb. We can’t deal with them , so we’re going to reach out and do something ahead of time to preclude them.[a pre emptive strike for freedom by narrowing freedom as it were]...
The article goes on to say that as a highly placed Director in Homeland Security, he doesn't say this any more. I feel better already. He has stopped saying, but has the 'doing' stopped?? [NBL].
If Kerry is elected, will he remain in his position.. probably, but not that important. Remember, there are a lot of other folks like him, and they think the way he does. They do not make public pronouncements, we don't even know their names...they just keep on 'doing' [remember Gen. Curtis LeMay.. brings to mind lots of scenarios..an old film, 'Seven Days in May' for one...but I digress]
CQ.com..we have to abridge individual rights
For those of you who have not kept up with this 'creeping silent' erosion of the Bill of Rights, I recommend you read the articles by Elaine Cassel. You can also get her new book, The War On Civil Liberties . Here is a teaser from her last post:
The Other War: Three Years Later[sarcasm]By now, you may be scratching your head and asking, 'How could I have missed this?... Well, try guessing the secret word.......given up? The secret word is [drum rollz] Secrecy.[/sarcasm]
..By war on civil liberties, I am referring to the erosion of the freedoms " embodied in the first ten amendments to the Constitution - known collectively as the Bill of Rights. Bush said that “they” “hate” ‘us” for our freedoms. Well “they” have much less to “hate” three years after Sep 11. Bush talks of spreading "liberty” abroad like butter or jelly. Well, we are scraping away “liberty” at home. It is something we are told we must do, in order to “preserve” freedom.
A radio interviewer made an interesting suggestion to me recently--should we call the Bill of Rights the Bill of Restrictions? I like that idea. Restrictions on government power. We could reframe them as not freedom of speech but freedom from government intrusion into speech, assembly. Not freedom to have an attorney represent us, but freedom from government eavesdropping on us and our attorneys and on limiting our right to counsel, ...
Read the rest
A good summary [but just the tip of the iceberg] by Dan Kennedy:
Cone of silence
From the Patriot Act to presidential records, George W. Bush has presided over an unprecedented rise in government secrecy.
...To be sure, the trend toward secrecy has accelerated since the terrorist acts of 9/11, and at least some security-related measures were probably inevitable and necessary. But the evidence is clear that George W. Bush has wanted to reverse the long march toward greater government openness from the moment he was sworn in.
"My sense is that this is one of the most deeply worrying developments of the last four years, because you can’t really have transparency, which is what democracy needs," ..
"We as a society have taken openness for granted for almost 40 years now," says long-time First Amendment activist Jane Kirtley... The reality is that the Bush administration has been savvy enough to know that they just can’t categorically rescind the First Amendment or cancel the Freedom of Information Act. It’s this slow erosion [mmmm an emerging pattern perhaps] of access." Kirtley adds: "This is a Molotov cocktail waiting to go off. If Bush is re-elected, my suspicion is that the mandate is then going to be justification for even more of this kind of thing."
..On September 14, US Representative Henry Waxman... issued a 90-page report titled Secrecy in the Bush Administration. Sadly, it received almost no attention in the mainstream media....
The Waxman report defies easy summary, and deserves to be read in full, but here are a few key lowlights.
1]On October 12, 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft issued a memo directing federal agencies to make aggressive use of exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a move that made it far easier to keep documents under wraps....
2]In March 2002, White House chief of staff Andrew Card issued another memo, this one encouraging agencies not to release "sensitive but unclassified information." As just one example, the Department of Defense relied on the Card memo in refusing to release an unclassified report, based entirely on public documents, regarding lessons learned from the 2001 anthrax attacks.
3]Bush appointees have issued regulations to federal agencies making it more difficult to obtain records about everything from consumer complaints to the location of energy-industry installations. Such regulations, the report contends, would have made it harder to learn about the Firestone tire-safety case, and will make it difficult to learn about potential hazards posed to a community by such things as gas pipelines. As former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta wrote in the September 2003 American Prospect, "The exemption provides a convenient way for businesses to conceal even routine safety hazards and environmental releases that violate permit limits from public disclosure. Shielded from public scrutiny, these hazards are much less likely to be addressed."
4]In November 2001, President Bush issued an executive order that makes it much harder for members of the public to obtain presidential records, thus undermining reforms that were put in place after Richard Nixon’s corrupt and secretive presidency....
5]Between 2001 and 2003, documents were classified at a rate 50 percent higher than the average for the five previous years, when Bill Clinton was president. Conversely, the pace of declassification was 60 percent slower than it was during the Clinton years. ...
6]The war against terrorism has resulted in an explosion of government secrecy, of which the Patriot Act is the most potent symbol. But the Patriot Act is far from the only way the White House has sought to hide its anti-terrorist activities from public scrutiny. For instance, the Waxman report observes that some 9000 prisoners are being held around the world in detention facilities operated by the US military and the CIA. Little is known about these detainees, and the administration refuses to provide any information. Even more egregious are the "ghost detainees" — perhaps as many as 100 suspected terrorists whose imprisonment the government has declined to confirm.
7]The administration has refused to comply with numerous requests for information from Congress, something it’s been allowed to get away with mainly because the Republicans control both the Senate and the House. On issues ranging from Cheney’s energy task force and Halliburton to Abu Ghraib and Nigerian uranium, the administration has just said no. The Waxman report cites a Washington Post article from November 2003 in which the White House made it clear that it simply would not respond to congressional Democrats anymore....Read it in full
Ok thrill seekers, lots to read for monday test, but for you over achievers, and extra credit, go take a look at the Waxman Report.
Special Investigations secrecy in government report [It is only 90 pages, but if you can't handle that, at least read the executive summary..PDF alert, blech]PS: Don't think that this trend will change with a change in Presidents. Remember PMSS. Power once attained, will not be relinquished easily...and so it goes.