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Excellent Scott Horton: "Another Milestone On The Road To Serfdom"

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Hissyspit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 08:43 AM
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Excellent Scott Horton: "Another Milestone On The Road To Serfdom"
http://www.harpers.org/archive/2008/03/hbc-90002574

Another Milestone on the Road to Serfdom

DEPARTMENT No Comment
BY Scott Horton
PUBLISHED March 8, 2008

This weekend, the darkness continues to descend in Washington, the powers of the state continue to grow and the mechanisms of accountability rot away unused. Americans are focused on the selection of a new president. Many of them share the nave assumption that on January 20, 2009, when a new leader takes the oath of office from the south steps of the Capitol Building, the Founders constitutional order will once more be set aright and the extra-constitutional excesses of the Bush years will be but a bad memory. But whoever is installed as the new guardian of presidential power will not likely part with many of the rights that Bush claimed and was allowed to use, unchallenged.

And this weekend, we should regard the three remaining candidates from a more skeptical predicate. This weekend, the curtain of tyranny descends further in Washington. The Bush regime, bolstered by a surging 17% public acceptance in one poll, moves more closely towards a faade of legality for its national surveillance state. It acknowledges its abuse of other legislation and will suffer no consequences for that abuse, and in a symbolic coup de grce, Bush will veto the latest Congressional prohibition on torturefor indeed, torture is the very talisman of his unchecked rule and his arrogant indifference to the rule of law. And in the midst of this, where, this weekend, are the three presidential finalists? They busy themselves with the accumulation of delegates for their march on the White House. They will mutter fine sounding words on the campaign trailsentences will glimmer with freedom and libertybut they will offer no action that shows those words have content.

The FISA Farce

In 2006, a Democratic Congress was elected with a mandate to hold Bushs excesses in checkindeed to roll many of them back. But this, it appears, was little more than campaign sloganeering. When it comes to the gravest challenges, the Democratic leadership knows only surrender. Here is Glenn Greenwalds glance behind the scenes at the planning of the Democratic leadership:

The current draft does not contain telecom immunity (solely for temporary strategic reasons see below), but incorporates every substantive warrantless surveillance provision of the Rockefeller/Cheney bill passed by the Senate, with several small and worthless exceptions that theyll try to sell to what they obviously think is their stupid base as some vital concessions:

-The House bill has a 4 year-sunset provision rather than the Senates 6 years;

-It provides for an audit by the DOJs Inspector General of the Terrorist Surveillance Program (the only change that I would describe as something other than worthless);

-It contains a provision stating that the bill is the exclusive means by which the President can conduct electronic surveillance (the same provision that FISA has now which the President violated, and which the Senate refused to insert into its bill); Nancy Pelosi was trying just yesterday, lamely, to sell this provision as some sort of vital safeguard;

- snip -

So the bill is not far removed from the White Houses request, and even the telecom immunity provision will emerge through some carefully choreographed maneuvers (the main object will be, of course, to obscure exactly how it got into the legislationthe Democratic leadership is conscious of the strong grassroots opposition to this provision, and keen to avoid a backlash. Not, of course, that this will do more than slow them down a few weeks in catering to the interests of their telecom friends.)

The NSL Scam

One of the extraordinary powers granted in the USA PATRIOT Act was a device called a National Security Letter by which the Justice Department was effectively granted the power to issue its own warrants, unchecked by courts, cloaked by immense secrecy, and divorced from the duty to account. It was a formula for abuse, and indeed, the abuse has been rampant. First, Attorney General Ashcroft insisted that NSLs had only ever been used a handful of times. That, of course, was a conscious lie. Ashcroft knew even as he uttered those words that the number of uses had stretched into the thousands. He was counting on a Congress that no longer took its oversight function seriously, and he was right.

Then, FBI Director Robert Mueller came forward to correct Ashcrofts mistake and to insist that the problems had since been cleaned up with internal accountability mechanisms. That also sounded like a silver-tongued lie.

And on Thursday, Mueller again came before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and again acknowledged that abuse was widespread. Heres how the Washington Examiner reported it:

- snip -

So, more promises unkept. The abuse festers, and indeed, there is not even a down-turn in the rate of abuse. And how do the argus-eyed guardians of the public weal in the Senate Judiciary Committee react to all of this? Condemnation? Demands for new hearings? No. They react with total silence. They dont even venture a few extra questions.

The Torture President

And all this simply clears the path for Bushs shining act of glory set for later today. He will veto the intelligence authorizations act of 2008 because it clarifies, for the third or fourth time now, that acts of torture are a violation of the law. But George W. Bush is the law, and he will not hear any differently from this Congress. Indeed, Bushs claim to be the law is manifested in one thing above all others, and that is his power to torture. By defending and upholding this right, Bush shows that unlike generations of predecessors in the White House, he is King. He sets the law, and his will determines how it will be enforced and against whom. That is his own, very personal vision of justice, measured in terms of personal prerogative and power. Torture is the measure and definition of his authority as a President with monarchical pretense.

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Karenina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 10:26 AM
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1. bttt.
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ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 10:32 AM
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2. Our own Leviathan
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 11:19 AM
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3. k&r -- I wanted to come up with more of a response, but I can't think of anything more to say than
we are fucked. We will continue to be fucked until the whole imperial project comes crashing down, or the planetary ecosystem forces a gigantic die-off -- whichever comes first.
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bbgrunt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 03:10 PM
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4. the enemy within--our own representatives. Disgusting and heartbreaking.
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Hissyspit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 08:10 PM
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5. .
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