On Monday, February 6, the Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings on federal surveillance of American citizens. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will testify.
First, we Americans don't know how many of us are objects of Bush's and the NSA's wiretapping program. We don't even know how the program really works. What software and hardware and equipment is used? Who handles it? We don't know how much data (of whatever type) regarding how many person's lives are tapped. Who or what is sifting through the information? And how? Who or what is connecting the dots? Are the dots being connected accurately. Above all, for what purpose?
What if, as a result of the NSA and other federal surveillance, an American is found to be a "terrorist risk" or some other similar defined object? Is that person arrested, publicly or secretly? Is an enemy of Bush a terrorist or is an enemy of the United States a terrorist? That is the day's question? Where is that person to be detained -- in America? In a military brig, Guantanamo or via rendition to a land where eyes close as torture commences? Can such a person so detained be tortured or assassinated even on American soil?
Well, the above questions have landed on the head of every American. The problem is how do you fight what you can't see, what you don't know?
The vague secret veil of Bush's activities falls across the eyes.
But halt, cruel veil? There are federal law enforcement officers who can take some information they know about the illegal Bush surveillance program, and type up an affidavit of probable cause to make an arrest for violation of the FISA act and the 4th Amendment and go to a judge, get a signature, then enforce the arrest warrant. Is there anyone goofy enough to try this? What would the consequences be? Worse than wearing the wrong T-shirt? One can wax nostalgic at the days when violations of federal law were enforced throughout the ranks of the federal government's employees all the way up to the top, and the fall-out be damned.
In the meantime, in between time, the most important or only time to act, Americans go to bed at night, knowing that when they wake, they may hear that the US has nuked some part of Iran.
A shock and awe photo on CNN of a billow of radioactive smoke hovers over a target in Iran -- one of its nuclear bomb development sites, and of course, not much collateral damage says the commentator.
Nuked a country, for the third time, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan!
It is a matter of such deep moral concern to nuke anyone now. Do Americans want this? So, the nuke may be one of those nukes that is sort of a lower-level device. Buried and hitting a bunker. But a nuke is a nuke by any other name.
Once again, will America be the only country in the world to ever nuke another country!
Then, upon deciding, after hearing of the nuking, that one is against it, can one do something? And when one does something to perhaps protest it or write an email to a friend or blog something about it or talk about it on the telephone, one may suddenly hear the knock at the door and be pulled out of one's home or workplace into a van and taken to some detention. Yes, one may just be against nuking Iran. One may hear that a few dozen, hundreds or thousands have been taken -- people who opened their mouths about nuking Iran -- people who didn't like it, thinking nuking a country is an act of depraved failure of human beings because other options exist -- must exist, or we are not human. Have we come to this?
So now, one must look to his or her Senators on the Justice Committee on Monday morning. When they interrogate Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, one must think of the all questions Bush won't answer, think of the probable nuking of Iran, think of the day you wake up helpless. Will a Senator or group of Senators take away this pestilence -- this surveillance program -- from America?
Again! Someone out there who took an oath of office to uphold the law and Constitution should put his or her hand and ink to the paper and write the affidavit of probable cause and get some judge -- there might be maybe one honest one -- to sign it, and then serve it on the Attorney General and say to him, "You are arrested, sir, for breaking federal law, sir. You're under arrest. I must read you your rights. You have the right to remain silent...."
That would be a good Paul Revere way to spend the day. Better than just collecting a federal paycheck and obeying illegal orders -- a crime.
Better than nuke chickens coming home to roost on American know-nothings.
Sources to read:
"In the latest twist in the debate over presidential powers, a Justice Department official suggested that in certain circumstances, the president might have the power to order the killing of terrorist suspects inside the United States. Steven Bradbury, acting head of the department's Office of Legal Counsel, went to a closed-door Senate intelligence committee meeting last week to defend President George W. Bush's surveillance program. During the briefing, said administration and Capitol Hill officials (who declined to be identified because the session was private), California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Bradbury questions about the extent of presidential powers to fight Al Qaeda; could Bush, for instance, order the killing of a Qaeda suspect known to be on U.S. soil? Bradbury replied that he believed Bush could indeed do this, at least in certain circumstances. " Click. (Newsweek) Can the President order a killing on US soil?
"Gonzales, who will be the only witness at today's hearing, will argue that Congress gave Bush the power to order wiretapping without a warrant when it authorized the use of military force to combat terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks.
That legal argument is ``a stretch,'' said Stephen Saltzburg, a professor at George Washington University's law school and a former Justice Department official under President George H.W. Bush. Saltzburg said he expects the hearings to turn into a political and public relations battle.
``Given the fact that anything that is really new is classified, we won't learn anything in the hearings that we don't already know,'' Saltzburg said. ``Congress is so ineffectual most of the time and so afraid, if the attorney general just sticks to his script, they won't lay a glove on him.'' Click. (CNN) Gonzales to face grilling on spy program.
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says President George W. Bush's warrantless surveillance program appears to be illegal.
Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Specter called the administration's legal reasoning "strained and unrealistic" and said the program appears to be "in flat violation" of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act." Click (UPI) Specter: Administration broke law.
President Bush approved the eavesdropping without warrants shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks, but since the program's existence was revealed in December by The New York Times, some legal experts and members of Congress have asserted that it violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
In a pointed exchange, Senator Russell D. Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, asked Mr. Negroponte whether there were any other "intelligence collection" programs that had not been revealed to the full Intelligence Committees.
Mr. Negroponte replied, "Senator, I don't know if I can comment on that in open session." Click. Scott Shane: Senate session on security erupts in spying debate.
"Over the years there had been an erosion of presidential power and authority," Mr. Cheney told reporters on Dec. 20 when asked about the eavesdropping program. "The president of the United States needs to have his constitutional powers unimpaired, if you will, in terms of the conduct of national security policy. That's my personal view."
Former Senator Gary W. Hart, a Colorado Democrat who served on the Church Committee, believes views such as Mr. Cheney's have set the clock back 30 years.
"What we're experiencing now, in my judgment, is a repeat of the Nixon years," Mr. Hart said. "Then it was justified by civil unrest and the Vietnam war. Now it's terrorism and the Iraq war." Click. Scott Shane: For Some, Spying Controversy Recalls a Past Drama
"If a poll of Americans were taken, most would acknowledge the perplexing problem of torture and other abuses chronicled in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, very few, if any, would be aware of the change in policy on assassination. The news media have covered the problem of torture, to an extent that most viewers and readers are numb to the news.
However, the more fundamental and certainly irreparable problem of political assassination has not been raised, discussed or examined. It is almost as if the code of the news media being embedded with the U.S. forces is their implicit agreement not to cover or mention something like planned political killing.
At a subconscious level, and perhaps even a conscious level, many of our neo-con policy formulators believe that if one "eliminates with extreme prejudice" (a CIA euphemism from the 1970s for assassination) one's international political opponents, victory is ours.
Unfortunately, the illusion will result in several political activists being killed who are seen by their compatriots not as terrorists, but patriots. With their assassinations, the seed of hatred will be sown, only to blossom with future retaliatory assassinations. Click. Patrick Shea: U.S. is back in assassination business.
An American attack is not just a theoretical possibility. Canadian war correspondent Eric Margolis reports that the CIA has already briefed Jordan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey on its plans to hit Iran if you don’t comply. " Click. Ahmad Faruqui: Dr Ahmadinejad, just don’t go there.
Once the U.S. enters the conflict, 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq will be at risk of Iranian missiles with chemical warheads, or of being overrun by Iran's conventional forces streaming into Iraq. According to the Pentagon planning [.pdf], nuclear weapons will be used:
Click. Jorge Hirsh: Israel, Iran, and the US: Nuclear War, Here We Come