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U.S.  Constitutional Abuses

Rowan Wolf

 

There are three critical "intelligence" events that have occurred undermining civil liberties and Constitutional protections: Bush's authorization of warrantless wire taps on U.S. citizens, the FBI's use of National Security Letters to avoid warrants, and the Pentagon collecting data on U.S. citizens and "dissident" groups. While these are three different agencies, the intent is clear and should be stated boldly. We are defined as enemies of the state.

Bush, (Rice, Cheney, and Gonzales) has argued that his ordering of the NSA to wiretap citizens without a warrant is because the system is "too slow." The reality is that the law allows a wiretap to be started without a warrant, and will issue one after the fact. The FBI has made wide use (roughly 30,000 a year) of National Security Letters to spy on U.S. citizens. National Security Letters require no court ordered warrant, and are approved by field supervisors. And who is the FBI watching? Well, they are watching activist groups - groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Greenpeace, and the Anti-Arab Discrimination Committee ( Hsu, 12/20/05). The "monitoring" of PETA goes back to July of 2000 - well before the events of September 11, 2001, and the "war on terrorism."

Who is a "threat to national security?" Well apparently groups like the Vegan Community Project.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has been growing their own intelligence empire with the Counter Intelligence Field Activities group (CIFA). U.S. citizens involved in protest activities are prime national security threats according to the Pentagon. No only are they collecting data, they are not destroying "irrelevant" data. As is noted in a December 16, 2005 NY Times article by David Cloud - Pentagon Is Said to Mishandle a Counterterrorism Database:

"Pentagon analysts appear not to have followed guidelines that require deleting information on American citizens and groups from a counterterrorism database within three months if they pose no security threats, Pentagon officials said on Thursday.

As a result, dozens of alerts on anti-war meetings and peaceful protests appear to have remained in the database, even though analysts had decided that those involved presented no threat to military bases or personnel, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the program is classified. "

Barton Gellman wrote on 11/06/05 "In hunt for terrorists, Bureau (FBI) examines Records of ordinary Americans."

All of these various activities are at the instigation of the Bush Administration. Everything is lumped under "national security" and the "war on terrorism." They show not respect for U.S. laws or the Constitution, and no respect for international laws and agreements. From a policy of preemptive war, to the use of nuclear weapons, to the Geneva Convention, to international bans on torture, the Bush cabal feels that they need to operate with total "freedom" and secrecy to "protect us." Well, I am not feeling "protected, I am feeling abused.

Philip James writes in his December 21st Guardian editorial: "Is America becoming what it most fears: a big brother state ruled by diktat, where no one is protected from eavesdropping by the secret police, and everything is permitted in defence of the homeland, including torture?" The answer is clearly "Yes."

Some may be willing to trade freedom, and the protections from the abuses of government, for "safety." However, it is clear from every report, that such activities are not making us safer. The Bush "Plan America" is leaving us looking much more like Saddam Hussein's Iraq, than the "land of the free, home of the brave" United States. The oft repeated refrain from the White House in legitimating the ongoing war in Iraq is: "We are fighting them over there so that we don't have to fight them here." But what is now clear, is that "we" - the citizens of the United States - are "them" - potential terrorists.

While the Administration attempts to legitimate the legality and necessity for tromping all over the constitution, just as it attempted to legitimate torture, "we" are neither safer or more free. There is open talk now about the "I" word - impeachment. The news trumpets that "this story won't go away." But as we have seen time after time, the story does go away. The Downing Street Memos weren't supposed to go away. The torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib wasn't supposed to go away. The manufacturing of evidence to preemptively engage in "regime change" in Iraq wasn't supposed to go away. The debacles of the federal response to hurricane Katrina wasn't supposed to go away. The White House refusal to release the names of Cheney's energy taskforce wasn't supposed to go away. Believe me, even the President authorizing illegal and unconstitutional surveillance on US citizens can go away too.

What can a lame duck President do in four years? The answer may well be make himself Dictator for life. The answer may well be that he can totally transform a democracy into a totalitarian state.

Rowan Wolf is a columnist for Project for the Old American Century, 
 and the editor of Radical Noesis and Uncommon Thought Journal . 
Her email is [email protected]

 

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