Sunday, January 22, 2006

Pirated Ship of State

All Hands on Deck! Our Ship of State has been pirated and attempts are being made to sail us into unconstitutional waters!

While we have worked below deck to keep this vessel afloat and been focused on our families and daily doings, there has been mischief afoot in the Captain's quarters.

Our President has never vetoed a single piece of legislation from Congress, something seen as amazing until one hears about the 'Signing Statements."

Apparently when President Bush has signed legislation into law, he has scribble himself little notes declaring his independence from legislation he doesn't like. These are called "Signing Statements" and in reality are as vaporous as a 'wish list'. From 2001 through 2004 he has written 107 of these raising 505 constitutional challenges. He and his administration are implying that the President has Constitutional Power to pick and choose what laws they will abide by. They imply that this supercedes the actual law that everyone had agreed to. Some of these Signing Statements are actually secret with the President giving himself powers that we aren't even allowed to know about, they're so secret.

One of the President's recent signing statements was in response to the McCain Act which reaffirmed our law that Torture is not acceptable and illegal. Ninety percent of the Congress approved this being attached to the budget for the President to sign. A line in the sand had been drawn. Our boundaries of law do not allow torture. There was a great hoopla when this law was approved by so many in Congress. Many of us had a rising hope that they were paying attention. After resisting the amendment and trying to get members to vote against it, President Bush told Senator McCain that he was going to drop opposition to the amendment and signed it among much hoopla.

Then he penned himself a note. In essence, he proclaimed himself free from the anti-torture legislation in the pursuit of the War on Terror. Under the guise of "protecting Americans," he wrote himself a permission slip to break the law. Torture would proceed on those the President deemed a threat to security and he would do so in secret.

It is important to note here that terrorism activities have been expanded to include any one or group from seeking to undermine governmental policies using force. Of course given the preemptive philosophy this administration has adopted, the government can target activist groups as potential terrorists when they have shown no evidence of intention to use force. Perhaps you read of the Pentagon spying upon an activist group meeting in a Quaker meetinghouse.

Now it appears that he has given himself the authority, with no oversight, to turn the powerful information gathering technology of the N.S.A on the American public. This was a secret. After this was leaked to the New York Times, which held back from publishing it for a year as requested by the Administration, Bush admitted to authorizing it over 30 times since 2001.

He admitted to actions which were outside of the law which requires him to get a warrant from the FISA court which is supposed to act as a check against extreme executive activity. The fourth amendment states that citizens shall be free from searches and seizures except with a warrant from a judge to whom evidence of wrongdoing was presented. The FISA court safeguards that right.

His reason for jumping the fence of law? To 'protect' the American People from terrorists. The 'terrorists' who threaten our freedoms and liberties?
Does Osama have the power to allow spying on us? Soon a wave of protest erupted around the nation from all groups across political and ideological lines. This, surely, was going too far. Osama bin Laden put in a timely appearance to remind us he was still out there and has more terrorist attacks for us, a threat the Administration has used to prop up their argument of danger from terrorism.

President Bush must not be allowed to continue to write his own laws. If he does, the balance of powers and checks and balances will collapse. The power of Congress, the voice of the People, will be, as you can see, the first to go.

It is the law that Congress hold hearings to investigate executive actions which have moved outside of the law and the Constitutional balance of powers. They must defend that institution against the undermining and usurpation of their power. Congress writes the law and the President must act within it.

It must be remembered that the President is an employee of the people. He is answerable to us for his conduct. If he has failed to preserve and uphold the Constitution as he promised in his oath, he has violated his oath and must be removed. If he has committed crimes, he must be brought before a court. He must come before Congress under oath. This is not a time for deference. You can never defer enough to someone who is already gaining unfair advantage by breaking laws.

Beyond writing our Congresspeople and becoming active to prevent this, we can use our imagination to create the outcome we desire. Thoughts are the blueprint matter clings to. Do not use your thoughts to fear the worst, instead direct them towards outcomes that are just, healthy and wise.

Demand that the rule of law restored and made stronger. Make Congress take up the challenge and defend our system of laws.

Sue Dyer, Occasional Bloggist