Monday, July 07, 2008

When does the rule of law not apply?

By Carol Gee

When our current president (OCP) first took the oath of office it was questionable whether it was a lawful election. But the Supreme Court of the United States had arbitrarily declared George W. Bush the winner of the 2000 election. Therefore his oath was taken under the rule of law, by our system of government. The application of the rule of law by OCP and his administration has been spotty ever since. It began with an emphasis on oil for the big corporations. Vice President Cheney saw to it that big oil had every advantage, and the deliberations regarding those plans have been unlawfully secret ever since. It plays out similarly to this story (hat-tip to betmo, who said, "this is perhaps the best analysis i've read yet of what's going on in africa..."), all over the world of oil: And, yes, I DO take it personally, May 13, 2008, headlined, "The REAL truth about the U.S. in Ethiopia and Somalia... Yes, it's about OIL and a 'narrow, extremely violent kleptocracy'..." And in the case of the United States, the word is Corporatocracy.

Congress, a co-equal branch of government to the executive, has been unable or unwilling to hold OCP and the members of his administration to account. Declaring early in her term as Speaker of the House that "impeachment is off the table," Representative Nancy Pelosi has given OCP "free reign/rein" to operate outside the rule of law. Even after it came out that the basis for going to war in Iraq was deliberately falsified, no high official has been held to account for operating outside the rule of law. The mechanisms for being able to get away with lawbreaking have included lack of Congressional oversight, asserting presidential powers under "unitary presidential theory" authority and the use of undue executive branch secrecy, as in this story. Think Progress headlined the story, "ACLU: Pentagon made unprecedented effort to hide human cost of war." To quote:

The ACLU today released documents regarding Navy investigations of civilians killed by coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report notes that the administration has gone to unprecedented lengths to control and suppress information about the human cost” of the wars.

This first workday after Independence Day 2008 means that Congress will soon get back to work making new laws. Are they also bound to operate under the rule of law? Or can Members and Senators make the law and have it come our any old way, willy nilly? It looks as if "willy nilly" is about to happen once again with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Here is the latest from's Glenn Greenwald, one of our most articulate FISA gurus:

  • Saturday July 5, 2008 -- In "The political establishment and telecom immunity -- why it matters," he makes these points. To quote:

    . . . the political elite are using to justify this bill, accompanied by the standard invocations of "National Security" which our Foreign Policy elite condescendingly toss around to justify whatever policy they're claiming is necessary to protect us. . . political establishment is not only about to pass a patently corrupt bill, but worse, are spouting -- on a very bipartisan basis -- completely deceitful claims to obscure what they're really doing. . . I would really like to know where people . . . get the idea that the U.S. President has the power to "order" private citizens to do anything, let alone to break the law . . . That just isn't how our country works and it never was. We don't have a King who can order people to break the law.

  • The courts have intervened, but often to no avail. "Another ruling by a federal judge" was Greenwald's July 4 post, in which he pointed out Congress' complicity in sanctioning law-breaking. To quote:

    A Bush-41-appointed Federal District Judge yesterday became the third judge -- out of three who have ruled on the issue -- to reject the Bush administration's claim that Article II entitles the President to override or ignore the provisions of FISA. Yesterday's decision by Judge Vaughn Walker of the Northern District of California also guts the central claims for telecom immunity and gives the lie to the excuses coming from Congress as to why the new FISA bill is some sort of important "concession." More than anything else, this decision is but the most recent demonstration that, with this new FISA bill, our political establishment is doing what it now habitually does: namely, ensuring that the political and corporate elite who break our laws on purpose are immune from consequences.

    Judge Walker's decision (.pdf) was issued in the case of Al-Haramain v. Bush.

It will take years to repair the damage, if ever. But OCP's tenure is almost over now, you say. Get over it! Well, NO, is what I say. There is still time to act to block the abominable FISA s0-called compromise. Another favorite guru, Firedoglake posted the phone numbers we can use to call members of congress to urge them to stand up for our civil liberties under FISA. To quote:

And repeating myself once more time: "It's pretty simple, no immunity for the telecoms. Call your Senators today and tomorrow and the next day. Call them until they get this simple message: No Immunity for the Telecoms! And put the pressure on Obama. Make him step forth and take leadership. He asks us to believe we have the ability to bring about real change in Washington. Let's get him to make real change in Washington -- this week, on this issue." Here are the toll-free katymine numbers to use to make those call to your Senators and Senator Barack Obama:

1 (800) 828 - 0498
1 (800) 614 - 2803
1 (866) 340 - 9281
1 (866) 338 - 1015
1 (877) 851 - 6437

Dial like our Constitution depends on it, because it does.

These days in history: Constitutional Convention - July 6, 1787. Convention debated committee report on state representation in Congress. On July 7, 1787: Madison addressed convention on topic of representation in Congress.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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