Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Radical Militant Librarians and Other Dire Threats !!!

By William Rivers Pitt t r u t h o u t Perspective
Monday 19 December 2005
"When the shepherd is a wolf, the flock becomes only so much meat." - Gurney Halleck
There was an internal FBI email sent in October 2003 that speaks volumes about why our legal system has been arranged the way it has. An unnamed agent was railing via email against the Department of Justice's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review. Specifically, the agent was frustrated by OIPR's failure to deliver authorization to use Section 215 of the Patriot Act for a search. "While radical militant librarians kick us around, true terrorists benefit from OIPR's failure to let us use the tools given to us," wrote the agent.
Radical militant librarians?
Radical militant librarians?
This, right here, is why the legal system is arranged the way it is. This is why officers must obtain warrants from a judge before they can conduct a search. Even in this time of watered-down civil liberties, warrants serve a vital purpose. At a minimum, the warrant firewall keeps walleyed FBI agents with wild hairs about radical militant librarians from bulldozing through the Fourth Amendment.
The President of the United States of America, it seems, does not agree with the sentiment.
It has been widely reported that Bush personally authorized the super-secretive National Security Agency to conduct surveillance against American citizens. "The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval," wrote the New York Times upon breaking the story, "was a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches."
As if this were not outrageous enough, Bush, during his weekly radio address, bluntly admitted to violating the laws governing surveillance of American citizens and the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution not once, but some thirty times. "I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September 11 attacks," said Bush, "and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and related groups."
These revelations hit Congress like a dung bomb, and caused what would likely have been an easy rubber-stamping of the renewal of the Patriot Act to go flying off the tracks and into the puckerbrush. "Disclosure of the NSA plan had an immediate effect on Capitol Hill," reported the Washington Post on Saturday, "where Democratic senators and a handful of Republicans derailed a bill that would renew expiring portions of the USA Patriot Act anti-terrorism law. Opponents repeatedly cited the previously unknown NSA program as an example of the kinds of government abuses that concerned them, while the GOP chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said he would hold oversight hearings on the issue."
The most disturbing aspect of this situation is, simply, how totally unnecessary it was. The provisions of the Patriot Act, along with several other laws, allow the administration to get warrants for the surveillance of anyone, anywhere in the country, with little trouble. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) set up a special court for the dispensation of warrants with no need for evidence or probable cause. This court has almost never denied the issuance of such warrants when asked, and said warrants are usually delivered in a matter of hours.
"Why would the President deliberately circumvent a court that was already wholly inclined to grant him domestic surveillance warrants?" asked columnist David Sirota in a recent essay. "The answer is obvious, though as yet largely unstated in the mainstream media: because the President was likely ordering surveillance operations that were so outrageous, so unrelated to the War on Terror, and, to put it in Constitutional terms, so 'unreasonable' that even a FISA court would not have granted them. This is no conspiracy theory - all the signs point right to this conclusion. In fact, it would be a conspiracy theory to say otherwise, because it would be ignoring the cold, hard facts that we already know."
Retired Air Force Lieutenant Karen Kwiatkowski, widely known for her revelations about the inner workings of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans and its manipulation of Iraq war evidence, spent two years working at the National Security Agency. On Sunday, I asked her what the ramifications are of a President throwing aside the firewalls that have blocked governmental surveillance of citizens for the last twenty five years.
"It means we are in deep trouble," said Kwiatkowski, "deeper than most Americans really are willing to think about. The safeguards of mid-1970s were put in place by a mobilized Democratic congress in response to President Richard Nixon's perceived and actual contempt for rule of law, and the other branches of government. At that time, the idea of a sacred constitution balancing executive power with the legislative power worked to give the Congress both backbone and direction."
"Today," continued Kwiatkowski, "we have a President and administration that has out-Nixoned Nixon in every negative way, with none of the Nixon administration's redeeming attention to detail in domestic and foreign policy. It may indeed mean that the constitution has flat-lined and civil liberties will be only for those who can buy and own a legislator or a political party. We will all need to learn how to spell 'corporate state,' which for Mussolini was his favorable definition of fascism."
I asked Lt. Colonel Kwiatkowski what it all means in the end. "I believe this use of national technical means (NSA communications interceptions) against American citizens is illegal," replied Kwiatkowski, "and I hope the courts will reverse the President. This illegality and misuse of executive power matches that of both the White House Iraq Group and the Office of Special Plans, where the truth and the law were both manipulated in a myriad of ways in order to satisfy an executive desire for domination and destruction of a Ba'athist Iraq. In all of these cases, American citizens were objectified as means to an end, rather than [treated as] individuals with Creator-granted unalienable rights, safe from excessive government interference and control."
"It all points to growing DC anti-constitutionalism," continued Kwiatkowski, "and what Dr. Robert Higgs calls the growth of the warfare state. A warfare state is wholly incompatible with a constitutional Republic. In my opinion, we need to fight, resist, refuse to subsidize Washington in every way, and we must immediately begin impeachment proceedings against this particular president, not only because he has clearly earned impeachment, but in order to revive a national awareness of the intent of the Founding Fathers to circumscribe centralized state power, and their vision of a free and peaceful Republic."
Hard words - impeachment, warfare state, fascism - for a hard day in our history. King Solomon, whose words bellow from the Book of Proverbs, spoke a warning which George W. Bush may come to know ere long. "He that troubleth his own house," said the King, "shall inherit the wind."
William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books:

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