January 25, 2008
If retroactive immunity for telecoms passes (as part of FISA bill), then our Congress will finally have declared that the United States is a wholly owned subsidiary of a few mega-companies and that the citizens are without rights or even avenues for redressing grievances. In other words, our government has given us very little choice other than to declare ourselves independent.
Let's first examine why it was that original US colonies declared their independence from king to begin with. Here is the list provided by the founders in the Declaration of Independence. I will put them in bullet points and discuss each briefly:
- "He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good."
How does this apply to this current scandal (among many) regarding domestic spying? Let's look at the particulars. The Vice President and President (Cheney/Bush) have acted as a single royal house that is above the laws of this country. They decided in secret to violate the law and used their power of authority to create a new law to be carried out by agencies under their control. This was done without the consent of Congress and the American people. It was also done against the law of the land and without authorization from the Judiciary.
Moreover, this illegal domestic spying was conducted against US citizens, without a warrant, via the hiring (with public money) of non-government entities (corporations) who charge the public for their service to begin with.
When the public learned of this, they filed legal action against the corporations, rightly so, for breach of contract (service provided to the customer) and criminal conduct. The Vice President and President are now demanding that the public not be allowed to sue these companies (civil) and exempting these companies from the criminal charges - which the White House cannot do in a blanket pardon of a corporation.
This one abuse of power alone violates Fourth Amendment to the Constitution ("The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.").
This violates the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, particularly the right to due process and self-incrimination ("nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.")
This also violates Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution ("I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.")
Instead of being impeached for their crimes, the Vice President and President are being allowed to violate the law, subvert the Constitution, abuse their authority, and deny the public any forum in which to redress grievances. Instead of these corporations being held accountable by Congress, it now appears that every single company involved will get immunity and retroactively. Congress has now become complicit in the crimes of this administration and is obstructing justice by voting to cover it up.
In other words, we have grounds on which to declare our contract with the government null and void. It has been done before (as noted above) and for the same reasons.
- "He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance."
As part of this domestic harassment, the Vice President and President have created the Department of Homeland Security, and have used the FBI to demand private information on US citizens without a warrant. The FBI has demanded, for example, private records from 26 Connecticut libraries. When the libraries were unwilling to grant the access, the FBI slapped the librarians with "National Security Letters" making it illegal for anyone to tell Congress, the press, or in any way make public this harassment. Private institutions, medical offices, credit card companies, and US citizens have all been silenced in this way from making public such brazen acts of domestic surveillance, harassment, and even denied the right to redress their grievances by making what was done to them a state secret. This whole set of secret laws, secret policing, secret warrants (when there are any), secret harassment, and secret courts is entirely in violation of not only the laws of the land but also in violation of the very definition of democracy.
As to the Constitution, this violates the First Amendment of the Constitution ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."). Yet they passed the Patriot Act and the Real ID Act. And now are busy debating and likely to pass the FISA bill, which will allow domestic surveillance without a warrant, involving private companies to whom US citizens pay money for services.
This violates the Second Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Fight Amendment, the Sixth Amendment, and the Seventh Amendment (see for all of these here).
This also violates Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, as well as Article, Section 8 of the Constitution. (see here).
In other words, Congress has abdicated its powers to an imperial presidency. And will continue to do so with the FISA bill.
We again have grounds on which to declare our contract with the government null and void. It has been done before (as noted above) and for the same reasons.
You get the basic idea, that we are ultimately faced with two choices. Either this FISA bill is the last straw and the passage of it will be grounds to declare the government contract with the people null and void, or we agree to give up our rights completely. Here are some additional reasons listed in the Declaration of Independence as to why our founding fathers declared their contract with the British king null and void. Notice how easily any number of crimes by this administration and Congress (as part of the royal court) can be inserted in substitution for the British monarchy and its legislative co-conspirators:
- He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
- He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
- He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
- He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
- He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
- For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
- For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
- He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
- He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
Do you see just how far this has gone? Are we not at the same juncture that our founding fathers were when they declared their contract with the government null and void? If this FISA bill passes with retroactive immunity for corporations in collusion with the government to commit crimes against the people, I would say folks we have to seriously consider a new Declaration of Independence, and we won't even have to change the list of reasons either.
Now, for the latest news on the FISA bill:
"After a January 24 debate in the Senate on amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Senate appears ready to capitulate once again to the Bush administration's agenda of sacrificing liberty for questionable security.
On the day before Congress was slated to take up this issue, Dick Cheney addressed the Heritage Foundation, the most influential right-wing think tank. He was given a thunderous reception, to which he quipped, "I hold an office that has only one constitutional duty - presiding over the Senate and casting tie-breaking votes." But the most powerful vice president in this nation's history was about to strong-arm Congress into doing the administrations' bidding.
Invoking the memory of September 11, 2001 twelve times, Cheney said it was "urgent" that Congress update the FISA law immediately and permanently. Notwithstanding the administration's well-known violations of FISA months before 9/11, Cheney claimed they had used "every legitimate tool at our command to protect the American people against another attack." He omitted the illegal tools the administration has admitted using, that is, Bush's so-called "Terrorist Surveillance Program" and a massive data mining program. FISA makes it a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison, for the executive to conduct a wiretap without statutory authorization. The TSP has been used to target not just the terrorists, but also critics of administration policies, particularly the war in Iraq."
So, back to the Declaration of Independence, the only other document that I value as part of the democracy cannon (the other being the Constitution of course), with one minor change on my part below:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the ADMINISTRATION AND THEIR ENABLERS IN CONGRESS is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
No immunity for the telecoms. No one can stand above the law in a democracy. This my friends is patriotism.
Posted in full with author's permission.
Originally posted at atlargely.com: http://www.atlargely.com/2008/01/united-states-i.html