Saturday, July 26, 2008

"I pledge allegiance...

By Carol Gee

. . . to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stood,"

said Daniel Ellsberg, July 25, 2008, on Glenn Greenwald's Salon Radio program debut. Ellsberg stated that this is the way he would have to say the Pledge of Allegiance today, given the recent passage by Congress and signing by the President, of the new Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Congress fails to uphold the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution -- Greenwald and Ellsberg both feel that the Senators and Representatives who voted for this legislation failed to uphold their basic oaths of congressional office. Though Ellsberg said he will vote for Senator Barack Obama, he does not feel that any president, including Obama, will willingly cede presidential powers once they have been conferred. Salon's debut podcast yesterday did not disappoint. I recommend this a fascinating half hour plus conversation on history joined with the current sorry state of Constitutional protections in the USA.Ellsberg believes that the republic is no more; Greenwald's term for the current definition of our form of government is "empire." To quote from Greenwald's post:

Knowing that he was risking life imprisonment, Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in an attempt to alert the public to what the Government was doing . . .

For his efforts, Ellsberg was subjected to extensive warrantless eavesdropping by the Nixon White House, had his psychoanalyst's office invaded and searched at Nixon's behest in an attempt to obtain incriminating information about him, and was arrested and then brought to trial where he faced life imprisonment for having leaked the report (though the charges were ultimately dropped as a result of the Nixon administration's misconduct towards him).

In countless ways, Ellsberg embodies exactly what our political system has been so conspicuously and tragically lacking, and he has become one of the most insightful analysts of our current political crisis. My discussion with Ellsberg can be heard here by clicking PLAY below [Glenn has the link]:

Congressional leaders fail to uphold ethical standards -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. John Boehner will jointly appoint former House Member and head of the CIA, Porter Goss, to the new House ethics board. (H/T to "emptywheel") To quote from The Hill's story:

The appointment of Goss, a prickly personality who left the CIA after a short, turbulent tenure, surprised even some Republican members of Congress. Several shook their heads in disbelief when told he was named to the board.

While he was chairman of the House intelligence committee, Goss opposed launching an investigation into the Valerie Plame CIA leak case.

Goss is close to Boehner and served with Pelosi on the intelligence and ethics panels. . .

Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (Fla.) said he supported Goss’s appointment, although he didn’t know why the former senior GOP member would want to come out of retirement to take it.

“[Goss] is a man of impeccable character, integrity and conviction and I can’t imagine why he wanted to take this job,” Putnam said.

Congress fails in its oversight responsibilities -- The House Judiciary Committee has been holding hearings on Presidential power, and on the Bush administration's use of torture against its enemies. It has not yet taken up the remedy of impeachment, and in all likelihood will not do so during its current term. Dandelion Salad posted about last night's pertinent episode of "Bill Moyer’s Journal: Torture Hearings + Jane Mayer + Fritz Hollings." It offers video links to the committee's torture hearings, and to Moyers' interview with Jane Mayer, author of a recent book, THE DARK SIDE: THE INSIDE STORY OF HOW THE WAR ON TERROR TURNED INTO A WAR ON AMERICAN IDEALS. The third video link is to Moyers' program-concluding interview with former Senator Fritz Hollings on the place of money raising in the lives of people in Congress. His book is MAKING GOVERNMENT WORK.

Additional references from Dandelion Salad:

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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