Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Blind Faith

In his Dec. 17 radio address George II defended his authorization of warrantless eavesdropping on domestic phone calls and e-mails by the secretive National Security Agency, claiming his constitutional status as commander-in-chief and the post-9/11 congressional resolution on force bestow such power on him. In trying to quiet any concerns, he assured us that before such eavesdropping is resorted to, “the government must have information that establishes a clear link to these terrorist networks.” As a further safeguard, he said, “The activities I authorized are reviewed approximately every 45 days. . . . The review includes approval by our nation's top legal officials, including the Attorney General and the Counsel to the President.”  Further, he said, “The NSA's activities under this authorization are thoroughly reviewed by the Justice Department and NSA's top legal officials, including NSA's general counsel and inspector general. Leaders in Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this authorization and the activities conducted under it. Intelligence officials involved in this activity also receive extensive training to ensure they perform their duties consistent with the letter and intent of the authorization. . . . The American people expect me to do everything in my power under our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties.”

This may sound impressive—until you remind yourself that all these purported safeguards are conducted by the president and his small circle of advisers. So what if this group reviews its own conduct every 45 days, assuming it even does that? Bush says the targets are linked to terrorists. But how do we know that? Hasn’t this administration gathered information on anti-war activities and PETA? As for those congressional briefings, I’m afraid that throwing bits of information to a couple of congressmen who can’t even consult their legal advisers, much less tell the public, just doesn’t cut it. All Senator Rockefeller could do was write a private letter of concern to Vice President Cheney. I’m not reassured.

The upshot is that the president claims he has the power to spy on anyone he deems an appropriate target and that no oversight from the judicial or legislative branch, much less the public, is required. He’s asking for blind faith that he will not violate our civil liberties. But he already has.

Thomas Jefferson said, “Free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence; it is jealousy and not confidence, which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power.” Mr. Jefferson would not recognize America today.

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