We are lawyers in the United States of America. As such, we have all taken an oath obligating us to defend the Constitution and the rule of law…. We believe the Bush administration has committed numerous offenses against the Constitution and may have violated federal laws…. Moreover, the administration has blatantly defied congressional subpoenas, obstructing constitutional oversight …. Thus, we call on House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy to launch hearings into the possibility that crimes have been committed by this administration in violation of the Constitution…. We call for the investigations to go where they must, including into the offices of the President and the Vice President. -- American Lawyers Defending the Constitution
Over one thousand lawyers – including former Governor Mario Cuomo and former Reagan administration official Bruce Fein – have signed onto the above statement demanding wide-ranging investigative hearings into unconstitutional and potentially criminal activity by the Bush administration.
Dec. 19-25, 2007
When the CIA and elements of the Pentagon do more - much more - than the Democrats to restrain the Bush gang from plunging the planet into an even wider spasm of war, it is time to recognize the absolute irrelevance of the Democratic Party - certainly, under present leadership.
Jaws dropped in capitals all around the globe when the combined intelligence agencies of the United States yanked the rationale for war with Iran, like a rug, from under George Bush's feet. It was a mutiny, centered in the CIA and in the Pentagon's nine separate intelligence agencies, designed to prevent Bush and Dick Cheney from expanding, against all military and political logic, their failed jihad in the Persian Gulf. Visibly startled, Bush behaved like he'd been knee-capped by his own men - which he had. The Pentagon-CIA revolt - witnessed by the entire planet - is unprecedented in modern times. Anyone who tells you differently is too blinded by imagined spy-novel schemes to recognize a mutiny when he sees it.Continue reading
Ralph Nader: "Things Are a Lot Worse than We Thought!"
Short Nader meditation on claim by Rep. Olver (D-MA) that impeachment proceedings would trigger attacks on Iran, martial law at home and cancellation of the 2008 election. (Oct. 11, 2007- 3' 26")Continue reading
by Frank Rich
The New York Times
November 11, 2007
AS Gen. Pervez Musharraf arrested judges, lawyers and human-rights activists in Pakistan last week, our Senate was busy demonstrating its own civic mettle. Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein, liberal Democrats from America’s two most highly populated blue states, gave the thumbs up to Michael B. Mukasey, ensuring his confirmation as attorney general.
So what if America’s chief law enforcement official won’t say that waterboarding is illegal? A state of emergency is a state of emergency. You’re either willing to sacrifice principles to head off the next ticking bomb, or you’re with the terrorists. Constitutional corners were cut in Washington in impressive synchronicity with General Musharraf’s crackdown in Islamabad.
In the days since, the coup in Pakistan has been almost universally condemned as the climactic death knell for Bush foreign policy, the epitome of White House hypocrisy and incompetence. But that’s not exactly news. It’s been apparent for years that America was suicidal to go to war in Iraq, a country with no tie to 9/11 and no weapons of mass destruction, while showering billions of dollars on Pakistan, where terrorists and nuclear weapons proliferate under the protection of a con man who serves as a host to Osama bin Laden.
General Musharraf has always played our president for a fool and still does, with the vague promise of an election that he tossed the White House on Thursday. As if for sport, he has repeatedly mocked both Mr. Bush’s “freedom agenda” and his post-9/11 doctrine that any country harboring terrorists will be “regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”
A memorable highlight of our special relationship with this prized “ally” came in September 2006, when the general turned up in Washington to kick off his book tour. Asked about the book by a reporter at a White House press conference, he said he was contractually “honor bound” to remain mum until it hit the stores - thus demonstrating that Simon & Schuster had more clout with him than the president. This didn’t stop Mr. Bush from praising General Musharraf for his recently negotiated “truce” to prevent further Taliban inroads in northwestern Pakistan. When the Pakistani strongman “looks me in the eye” and says “there won’t be a Taliban and won’t be Al Qaeda,” the president said, “I believe him.”
Sooner than you could say “Putin,” The Daily Telegraph of London reported that Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, had signed off on this “truce.” Since then, the Pakistan frontier has become a more thriving terrorist haven than ever.
Now The Los Angeles Times reports that much of America’s $10 billion-plus in aid to Pakistan has gone to buy conventional weaponry more suitable for striking India than capturing terrorists. To rub it in last week, General Musharraf released 25 pro-Taliban fighters in a prisoner exchange with a tribal commander the day after he suspended the constitution.
But there’s another moral to draw from the Musharraf story, and it has to do with domestic policy, not foreign. The Pakistan mess, as The New York Times editorial page aptly named it, is not just another blot on our image abroad and another instance of our mismanagement of the war on Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It also casts a harsh light on the mess we have at home in America, a stain that will not be so easily eradicated.
In the six years of compromising our principles since 9/11, our democracy has so steadily been defined down that it now can resemble the supposedly aspiring democracies we’ve propped up in places like Islamabad. Time has taken its toll. We’ve become inured to democracy-lite. That’s why a Mukasey can be elevated to power with bipartisan support and we barely shrug.
This is a signal difference from the Vietnam era, and not necessarily for the better. During that unpopular war, disaffected Americans took to the streets and sometimes broke laws in an angry assault on American governmental institutions. The Bush years have brought an even more effective assault on those institutions from within. While the public has not erupted in riots, the executive branch has subverted the rule of law in often secretive increments. The results amount to a quiet coup, ultimately more insidious than a blatant putsch like General Musharraf’s.
More Machiavellian still, Mr. Bush has constantly told the world he’s championing democracy even as he strangles it. Mr. Bush repeated the word “freedom” 27 times in roughly 20 minutes at his 2005 inauguration, and even presided over a “Celebration of Freedom” concert on the Ellipse hosted by Ryan Seacrest. It was an Orwellian exercise in branding, nothing more. The sole point was to give cover to our habitual practice of cozying up to despots (especially those who control the oil spigots) and to our own government’s embrace of warrantless wiretapping and torture, among other policies that invert our values.Continue reading
The next president will have to deal with yet another crippling legacy of George W. Bush: the economy. A Nobel laureate, Joseph E. Stiglitz, sees a generation-long struggle to recoup.
by Joseph E. Stiglitz
When we look back someday at the catastrophe that was the Bush administration, we will think of many things: the tragedy of the Iraq war, the shame of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, the erosion of civil liberties. The damage done to the American economy does not make front-page headlines every day, but the repercussions will be felt beyond the lifetime of anyone reading this page. I can hear an irritated counterthrust already. The president has not driven the United States into a recession during his almost seven years in office. Unemployment stands at a respectable 4.6 percent. Well, fine. But the other side of the ledger groans with distress: a tax code that has become hideously biased in favor of the rich; a national debt that will probably have grown 70 percent by the time this president leaves Washington; a swelling cascade of mortgage defaults; a record near-$850 billion trade deficit; oil prices that are higher than they have ever been; and a dollar so weak that for an American to buy a cup of coffee in London or Paris—or even the Yukon—becomes a venture in high finance.
And it gets worse . . .Continue reading
by Naomi Wolf
November 4, 2007
Excerpt: I have argued that in the closing stages of a `fascist shift', events cascade. I am hearing about them, even across the globe...
Let us think like business consultants analyzing the decisions of a business that claims it is going to close its door in just a year. What kinds of decisions is it making? Here is a quiz, if you still doubt that we need to shift our thinking and recognize what appears to be 'a paper coup.':
- Is building a US Embassy in Baghdad the size of eighty football fields and at a cost of well more than half a BILLION dollars evidence of short- or long-term thinking?
- These walls would crumble if the next legitimate president independently ends the war. How about defending and expanding the basis for FISA violations at this late stage -- after all, these folks will be gone in a year?
- How about the decision to fight so hard for a US attorney who will defend the view that the President is above the law?
- Why would that matter so much in an administration folding its tents?
- Why the rush to establish Guantanamo as a permanent part of the landscape and even seek money at one point to double its size -- if the next President, a truly independent Republican or Democrat, might just close it down?
- Why the push to expand a war that makes no military or popular sense, rush through military tribunals that the next President might just disband, and, by the way, drum up a fresh new World War III?
- Do the neo-cons advising Giuliani look like a fresh page for an independent, transparent election or an ideological continuity of government in themselves?
- Do these look like the short-term tactics of a fading administration -- or the institutional strategic bases for some kind of new long-term beginning?Continue reading
Saturday, November 3 2007
At the National Lawyers Guild 70th Anniversary Law for the People Convention, in Washington DC, the membership "unanimously and enthusiastically passed a resolution supporting the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. — Ed.On Friday the National Lawyers Guild unanimously and enthusiastically passed the following resolution.
Resolution on Impeachment of Bush and Cheney
Whereas George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney:
1. deliberately misled the nation and doctored intelligence, as described in the Downing Street minutes, about the threat from Iraq in order to justify a war of aggression and an occupation of Iraq, as further described in House resolution H.Res. 333: and as listed in House Resolution H. Res. 635:
2. committed crimes against peace by initiating war against Iraq in violation of the UN Charter;
3. committed crimes against humanity in their conduct of the occupation of Iraq in which they killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and created millions of refugees;Continue reading
by Ralph Nader
October 27, 2007
Every law student promptly learns the national ideal that our country is governed by the rule of law, not the rule of men. Today, the rule of law is under attack. Such activities have become a big business and, not surprisingly, they have involved big business.
On October 25th, Secretary Condoleeza Rice officially recognized before a House Oversight Committee that, remarkably, there was no law covering the misbehavior of Blackwater Corporation and their private police in Iraq.
Any crimes of violence committed by Blackwater and other armed contractors commissioned by the Defense and State Departments to perform guard duty and other tasks, fell into a gap between Iraqi law, from which they have been exempted by the U.S. military occupation and the laws of the United States.
Since the United States government is ruled by lawless men in the White House who have violated countless laws and treaties, Bush and Cheney clearly had no interest in placing giant corporate contractors operating inside Iraqi jurisdiction under either the military justice system or the criminal laws of the United States.
Presidential power has accumulated over the years to levels that would have alarmed the founding fathers whose constitutional framework never envisioned such raw unilateral power at the top of the Executive branch. Accordingly, they only provided for the impeachment sanction. They neither gave citizens legal standing to go to court and hold the Presidency accountable, or to prevent the two other branches from surrendering their explicit constitutional authority-such as the war-making power-to the Executive branch. The federal courts over time have refused to adjudicate cases they deem “political conflicts” between the Legislative and Executive branches or, in general, most foreign policy questions.
Books and law journal articles have been written about times when government violates the laws. They are long on examples but short on practical remedies of what to do about it.Continue reading
BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the JOURNAL... Some of you will remember that back in July the conservative scholar Bruce Fein was here on the JOURNAL expressing outrage over expansion of presidential powers under Bush and Cheney.
BRUCE FEIN: Take for instance the assertion that he's made that when he's out to collect foreign intelligence, no other branch can tell him what to do. That means he can intercept your emails, your phone calls, open your regular mail, he can break and enter your home, he can even kidnap you, claiming I'm seeking foreign intelligence there is no other branch - Congress can't make it illegal, judges can't say this is illegal. I can do anything I want.
BILL MOYERS: Many others have joined Bruce Fein's chorus of concern. This week it's the muckraking populist Jim Hightower. Writing in his newsletter the Hightower Lowdown, shown here on the Web site Alternet, he asks the question: "Is a presidential coup under way?"
He goes on to say, "The Constitution is being trampled, the very form of our government is being perverted, and nothing less than American democracy itself is endangered."
We've posted Jim Hightower's Lowdown on our web page at pbs.org so that you can read the whole of his argument about it.
But here's some background as to why so many people of different political stripes are alarmed. President Bush and Vice President Cheney espouse the theory of the unitary executive. That means the President's orders can't be reviewed, questioned, or altered by the other two branches of government. He alone can say what the law means, or whether or not it will be enforced or ignored. In effect, George W. Bush says his powers must be unilateral and unchecked.
Critics claim the President has used the war on terror to put himself above the law and that he has created a secret presidency of classified decisions and orders, that approve extraordinary renditions, torture, illegal detentions, and wiretapping without warrants with the collaboration of big telecom companies. This boundless secrecy and surveillance evokes images counter to American values.Continue reading
Continue readingDisclaimer: This video was apparently produced by or for the Ron Paul presidential campaign. Neither the "PTWC" summit nor its organizers and endorsers will be using this event or website to promote any specific party or candidate, but we will from time to time include certain campaign generated media pieces that effectively illustrate deft media technique or some aspect of our core concerns. These do not imply an endorsement of any candidate. They merely acknowledge the media craftsmanship involved. - Ed.
by Jim Hightower
The Hightower Lowdown
October 26, 2007
Where is Congress? It's way past time for members to stand up. Historic matters are at stake. The Constitution is being trampled, the very form of our government is being perverted, and nothing less than American democracy itself is endangered -- a presidential coup is taking place. I think of Barbara Jordan, the late congresswoman from Houston. On July 25, 1974, this powerful thinker and member of the House Judiciary Committee took her turn to speak during the Nixon impeachment inquiry.
"My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total," she declared in her thundering voice. "And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution."Where are the likes of Barbara Jordan in today's Congress? While the BushCheney regime continues to establish a supreme, arrogant, autocratic presidency in flagrant violation of the Constitution, members of Congress largely sit there as idle spectators -- or worse, as abettors of Bush's usurpation of their own congressional authority.Continue reading