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    As the hopes for keeping alive the Fourth Amendment rest now on the possibility of a chauffer's strike in DC (UPDATE: no such luck), it occurs to me the accompanying hopeless feeling of dread is becoming all too familiar. As I listened to NPR give a one-sentence mention to the "expected to pass" gutting of FISA safeguards speeding through the Senate today, I began to enumerate all the other avenues into open government that have been so effectively closed by the criminal conspiracy occupying the White House.

The list is staggering.
 
"A republic, if you can keep it" is the oft-quoted reply of Ben Franklin when asked what type of country had been forged in the constitutional convention. There can no longer be any doubt - we have lost the republic. And to a bully, no less. How could this happen? Historians, if their profession persists, may argue about it, but the truth of the matter is that this whole issue has been engineered in such a way that we will never know.

Read below the fold and weep.

    All the first American dictator needed was a little boost at the very beginning, and he and his machine have run the entire concept of open, democratic government into oblivion. Charging any aspect of the bush junta with incompetence is dangerously naive, for they have continued, indeed accelerated, the destruction of our democracy in the face of natural, legal, and temporal obstacles that would have stymied Napoleon or Josef Stalin. The worst aspect of all of this is not the destruction of the constitution and criminality that can be seen (of which there is plenty), but the breathtaking expanse of what we will never know.

December, 2000: Supreme Court gives the office of president to a smarmy, overprivileged failure at the behest of his connected handlers, short-circuiting the sacrosanct electoral process under the cover of expediency. Due to this and coordinated shenanigans all over the state of Florida involving Republican party operatives and incumbent Republican elected officials, all the Florida votes in the 2000 election were not properly counted.
    Which begs the question: who really won the 2000 presidential election? Much independent research says the answer is Al Gore. The Supreme Court of the US and "facts on the ground" say otherwise.

WE WILL NEVER KNOW

January 2001: Administration deactivates electronic record-keeping in the White House, including the ARMS email archiving system. This prevents any investigation into what actually goes on in the Oval Office by removing any objective recordings.
    Which begs the question: What was recorded, or prevented from being recorded?  Was it/is it just the business of running the executive branch, or something that needed to be hidden from congress, investigators, and the American people?

WE WILL NEVER KNOW

January, 2001: Dick Cheney convenes secret energy task force. Years later, a lawsuit seeking to discover the agenda of this task force is struck down by (once again) the SCOTUS, including a supporting vote from justice Scalia, who had a clear conflict of interest.
    Which begs the question: considering that seven years later there is still no coherent US energy policy, but we are mired in a protracted occupation of an oil-rich middle eastern country, what exactly was discussed in those meetings? And exactly what relevance do maps of Iraqi oil fields have to US energy policy? Was the groundwork for the current energy crisis (which has its winners, and they're connected to the White House) laid at those meetings? And was the case discussed between Scalia and Cheney during that duck hunting trip? For that matter, was the vice president drunk and waving his weapon at the justice?

WE WILL NEVER KNOW

2001-2006: One of the prominent members of that energy task force was none other than Enron chairman and major bush donor Ken Lay. Enron was heavily involved at the time in illegal manipulation of the California energy market. Ken Lay was eventually convicted for his part in that scheme, but died before presenting for his sentence.
    Which begs the question: what did he know, and what might he have spilled to save his own multimillion dollar butt? Was there complicity in Enron's illegality from the White House?

WE WILL NEVER KNOW

February 2001: bush administration begins warrantless wiretapping program, with complicity from all the major telecoms with one exception; Qwest. Qwest is subsequently punished with withdrawal of top secret contract, which coincidentally leads to insider trading charges against CEO Joseph Nacchio.

Nacchio's account, which places the NSA proposal at a meeting on Feb. 27, 2001, suggests that the Bush administration was seeking to enlist telecommunications firms in programs without court oversight before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The Sept. 11 attacks have been cited by the government as the main impetus for its warrantless surveillance efforts.

    Which begs a LOT of questions: Why was the government so keen to spy on Americans outside the very lenient confines of the FISA court? Exactly what was this program supposed to uncover, since it is clear that terrorism was not on bushco's radar in February 2001? Who was targeted? What mechanisms were used? Is there a connection between Qwest's reluctance to break the law and their subsequent loss of contract? Was the prosecution of Nacchio politically motivated as payback? Was this the first instance of using the justice system as a political weapon?

WE WILL NEVER KNOW

September 2001: US attacked by Saudi, Egyptian, Lebanese and UAE terrorists. Years later, the 9/11 commission releases a very incomplete report on the preceding actions of the executive branch. A big reason for the incomplete nature of the report is massive stonewalling from the executive branch, including unprecedented provisos that the president not answer questions under oath, and that the vice president handhold him throughout the informal Q&A session with the commission. The commission's mission is also narrowly defined to prevent any chance of discovering negligence or worse on the part of the administration. Subsequently the report is widely seen as a whitewash and a political figleaf.
    Which begs the question: What is the adminstration afraid would be discovered? Since one thing we DO know is that warnings from Richard Clarke and others were being ignored (8/6/01 PDB), it cannot simply be that the administration was a poor watchman of our national security. What are they hiding? Isn't protecting the nation an issue on which we are all on the same side? Then why the obstruction?

WE WILL NEVER KNOW

2002-2003: US runup to war with Iraq. Throughout this period, the administration engaged in a deeply deceptive campaign, with knowing aid from multiple media organs, to paint Iraq as a clear and present danger to the US. This was accomplished with fabricated, cherry-picked, and deliberately misconstrued "data" from the intelligence communities of the US and other countries. We DO know this much, because the Phase 2 report on prewar intel finally was released...a month ago. Four years after the phase 1 report, which essentially said "oops". That first report was also hamstrung by the administration, with the willing aid of the Republican-controlled committee, and should have been revisited by the new committee after the 2006 elections. Both reports failed to ask or answer any questions of accountability for deceiving the congress and the American people to justify an aggressive war, which is a war crime.
    Which begs the question: WTF?? Why weren't these questions addressed? How can such a clear pattern of deception be seriously construed to be a series of mistakes? Is there a conspiracy to cover up war crimes by the president, vice president, and the cabinet? Is the congress complicit? Do they even care?

WE WILL NEVER KNOW

July 2003: Former ambassador Joseph Wilson determines one of the claims of the administration regarding Saddam's supposed nuclear program is false, and publishes his findings in the New York Times, one of the places where the administration's lies had found an uncritical amplifier before the invasion. Wilson's wife, then an undercover CIA agent working on the problem of WMD proliferation, is outed to the press. This disclosure was a serious crime that resulted in mortal danger to her and the network of which she was a part, as well as undermining the very mission that helps secure the country against attack with such destructive weapons. Again, the administration went into full-bore obstruction mode, lying to investigators, congress, the American people, and the press. Eventually, the vice president's chief of staff is convicted of this obstruction, but the actual leaker is never held accountable, and Scooter Libby's sentence is commuted in what has to be the most ethically abhorrent use of that power by the president in US history.
    Which begs the question: Who did it? Was it political payback for whistleblowing by Wilson? Since commuting the sentence leaves in place the guilt of Libby, but removes the punishment (unlike a pardon, which removes Libby's reasons for obstruction and could compel his testimony) does this constitute ongoing obstruction of justice by the president? Was there a deal with Libby to buy his silence?

WE WILL NEVER KNOW

2003-present: Allegations of war profiteering and billions of dollars go missing in Iraq, as the military privatizes many functions to connected firms like Halliburton and Blackwater through no-bid contracts. Administration again uses stonewalling tactics to prevent oversight or accountability for these actions, also considered war crimes.
    Which begs the question: Why? Isn't the function of oversight to prevent this exact type of abuse? Can the mission (whatever that is) succeed if it is being sabotaged by corruption?

WE WILL NEVER KNOW

2001-present: US implements use of torture and "extraordinary rendition" (aka kidnapping) on detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq, Cuba, and several other countries around the world. It hides this from congress and the American people until caught, then AGAIN, stonewalls and obfuscates behind ridiculous legal figleafs. All accountability is limited to a few low level soldiers, though evidence is abundant that these programs were initiated and even micromanged by the secretary of defense and others at the top of the administration. These actions, too, are war crimes.
    Which begs the question: What happened to the rule of law in wartime? As a signatory to the Geneva conventions, the US is bound by that treaty's prohibition of these crimes, so why do they continue to this day? Why has there been no accountability for this barbarism? What are the long term effects in the international arena of the world's only superpower going rogue with regard to the human rights of prisoners? Given that torture has been proven to be ineffective in intelligence gathering, what is the purpose of this cruelty? Why has congress again shirked its duty to rein in even the most egregious behaviors of this president?

WE WILL NEVER KNOW

2003-2005: Thousands or millions of internal administration emails, which by law are to be preserved (for purposes of history and oversight) suddenly disappear from the White House system. The subsequent (and vigorously stonewalled) investigation also determines that many senior administration officials routinely and illegally used the private email service of the Republican National Committee, and these emails, too, suddenly go missing.
    Which begs the question: What was on those emails? How is it possible for yet another lucky mistake to erase any possible evidence that those communications were or were not part of a conspiracy by the administration regarding all of the above issues and those I have yet to enumerate? Well, guess what?

WE WILL NEVER KNOW

.

2005-2006: Department of Justice embarks on political witchhunt of enemies and promotion of unqualified cronies in a clear attempt to use the justice system as a political weapon, from interns to senior US Attorneys. One of many casualties of this witchhunt is former AL governor Don Siegelman, who was jailed on charges and evidence so flimsy a judge ordered him released. Three highly ranked members of the administration are currently defying legal, proper congressional subpoenas to appear and testify about their involvement in this coordinated and illegal activity. They so far remain unpunished for this flagrant flouting of the law. Former attorney general Alberto Gonzalez feigns ignorance and amnesia at congressional hearings and receives no punishment, but is asked to resign. He is replaced by Michael Mukasey, who continues covering up administration meddling with the US justice system.
   Which begs the question: What are they hiding? How can a constitutional democracy function if the balance of powers is completely ignored by the executive branch? What does this precedent mean for future attempts at moderating the excesses and crimes of future executives? Is there any purpose for retaining the legislative and judicial branches if their roles are merely advisable, and their laws and rulings deemed optional for the executive?  As long as this stalemate continues,

WE WILL NEVER KNOW

2007-2008: bush administration aggressively pursues rewrite of FISA law granting additional powers (already long exercised in spite of their present illegality), without any oversight, and with a provision to excuse the unlawful complicity of the telecoms that dates back to February 2001. Democratic congress barely manages to thwart this transparent coverup, then unilaterally reopens debate and capitulates to the president. No believable case is made for any aspect of this rewritten law, no evidence presented of its necessity, and no discovery of potential past or present abuses of the Fourth Amendment is allowed.
    Which begs all of the questions asked on this blog and others (though glaringly NOT asked by the mainstream media, and not asked of administration or congressional officials) about the reason for this wholly voluntary surrender of one of the most important bulwarks against tyranny written into the Constitution, namely the right to be free from illegal searches and seizures. It also codifies the abhorrent and undemocratic idea that the executive can order private entities to break existing law, and there will be no consequence for the executive, or the companies involved. Importantly, it also codifies that no discovery of the past acts of any of the players is allowed even for purely academic reasons, meaning of course

WE WILL NEVER KNOW

So really, in the larger context of the past eight years, the loss of the constitutional freedom from unwarranted or politically motivated searches and overall intrusions into the private lives of any American is not that big a deal. It's only one more small step in the inexorable march to tyranny that happens when unchecked lust for power and control are met by an uncaring, distracted populace, a lazy and ignorant press, and a self-serving, misguided, lazy and ignorant legislative branch. So how will we know when the last facade of democracy falls away, and America officially becomes the authoritarian police state it is morphing into? As Daniel Ellsberg said in an interview over the weekend

You can't keep a republic, a constitutional republic with that degree of knowledge by the president and the executive branch... you have something else... you can call it an autocracy, a dictatorship. It's the basis for tyranny. And that's what the constitution was meant to prevent. And that's what this bill would confer: Unlimited power, in the way the East German Stasi, the state surveillance organization... You can live lives, weddings, education, business, jobs, you can go along as normal... but you're not living in a democracy or anything that even pretends to be one.

Chilling words. Are we there yet?

We will never know

Originally posted to kamarvt on Wed Jul 09, 2008 at 10:06 AM PDT.

Poll

Are we there yet?

9%14 votes
45%68 votes
8%13 votes
6%10 votes
25%38 votes
4%7 votes

| 150 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar, 7/9/08 (28+ / 0-)

    There's more - I didn't get into the Patriot Act and how it hides administration activites from the public, or the stacking of the judiciary with authoritarians who don't see any problem with an elected dictatorship, or the deliberate malpractice of the mainstream media in misreporting, underreporting, and spinning the public away from potentially uncomfortable topics, or the monkeying with other government agancies like NASA, NOAA and others to prevent scientific findings inconvenient to the oligarchy from becoming known, or the slipshod caretaking of our nuclear arsenal, and selective enforcement of the non-proliferation treaty, and on and on and on.
    Truth be told, I cannot do this anymore today. I'll stick around comments for awhile, but I don't know how much more I can take on this dark, dark day.

    On Liberation Day, 1/20/09, Americans will greet us with flowers and candy

    by kamarvt on Wed Jul 09, 2008 at 10:12:23 AM PDT

  •  NOT THE TIP JAR (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kamarvt

    But please post one.

  •  It's a tough day to be an American (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ckntfld, kamarvt, Champurrado, angel d

    All the anger turned into despair with that last vote.  I just don't have any fight left right now.  I just need some time to process and grieve.

  •  Excellent Diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ckntfld, kamarvt

    I hope it gets rec'd up.  I hate to see good diaries like this fall off the radar while far less deserving diaries get massive comments ... thanks for your hard work and research.

    As for the 9/11 Commission whitewash ... I knew something was fishy the minute Henry Kissinger was tagged to head up that commission ...

    •  much thanks (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, Ckntfld, angel d

      It was hard to write, but only because it felt like pronouncing the country dead. The information is easy to find, up to a point, then it all hits the same stone wall. I can't prove anything, and neither can anyone else. These guys are really good at what they do.
      And they will start again on January 20, 2013; right where they left off.

      On Liberation Day, 1/20/09, Americans will greet us with flowers and candy

      by kamarvt on Wed Jul 09, 2008 at 10:38:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I recently lost the friendship of someone (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kamarvt, martini

    I've known for about 25 years. We'd passed e-mails back and forth for years, and he surprised me by saying he'd kept the correspondence. With infuriating calm, and often a lot of smirking, he'd bat aside my every objection to the excesses of Chimpco, and while he claimed he wasn't a particular fan of Bush, nothing the Son of Poppy did seemed to bother my friend.

    Recently, he became angry at something I wrote and replied with a blistering missive. Part of it was because he'd misinterpreted something I'd said, but even when I offered a clarification, it wasn't enough. I attempted to explain one final time, and warned him that I will beg no man to be my friend. "Even so, I hope you will consider your next step carefully," I concluded.

    That was 2-3 weeks ago and I've heard nothing further. I do not make friends easily, nor take friendship lightly, but here's the sad part: I wish I felt better about this--and I wish I felt worse. This guy isn't the first friend I've lost over the Chimp, and we haven't seen each other in 4 years (and it was 16 the time before that), but we were once close. I'm sad that he has decided to cut me dead, but at the same time, in my mind, he drank the Kool-Ade a long time ago.

    And given this latest Democratic betrayal, I can't help hoping my ex-friend will one day learn to his great sorrow that I wasn't just out of my mind with irrational hatred for the Determinator. How I wish he'd come crying to me, so I could kick him in the teeth.

    •  I hope that he learns sooner than "too late" (0+ / 0-)

      ...and finds the bravery to express that to you.  I suspect it'd lift your spirits, and you'd be too distracted to kick him!

      •  I'm not the vindictive sort...but sneer at me (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kamarvt, martini

        long enough, tell me enough times that I'm the willing dupe of propaganda, and that you can't fathom or share my grief at that young soldier literally cut in half (and all the others, dead and wounded for nothing) and see how willing I'll be to do anything but kick your balls until they come out your throat. Either my friend or I is dead wrong... and it must be me, because he's surely dancing for joy at this latest demonstration that we're in the power of insane, spineless jackals. No, I want him to reap the whirlwind.

  •  Needs a Rescue tag! n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kamarvt
  •  Wow. Just wow. Awesome diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kamarvt, Pariah Dog

    Nice collection of facts, analysis, and hard work.

    We need you in the DOJ!

    Next time I tell you someone from Texas should NOT be president of the United States, please pay attention. In Memory of Molly Ivins, 1944-2007

    by truebeliever on Wed Jul 09, 2008 at 09:45:52 PM PDT

  •  I think a good solution (0+ / 0-)

    Is to do what Kristof and the time suggested and try to get the President to set up a truth and reconcilation commission for all this.  Then we would know.

    •  No. Prosecute them. Compell testimony - those (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kamarvt, Pariah Dog

      who receive presidential pardons lose their 5th Amendment Right to remain silent.  Everyone who gets a Bush Pardon on 01/19/2009 should receive an Obama Attorney General Subpoena the following day.

      Those who refuse to testify can be held for an indeterminate period as Material Witnesses.  Those who refuse to testify in court can similarly be jailed for Contempt.  

      Remember Judy Miller? There's a wing of the Alexandria, VA City Jail with her name on it just waiting to be filled up with Halliburon/KBR executives, Blackwater assassins, CACI torturers, and all the assorted privatized spooks and flotsum of the criminal Bush-Cheney era.

      Insist on it.

  •  thank you! n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kamarvt

    "It's not enough to rage against the lie...you've got to replace it with the truth." Bono

    by green minute on Wed Jul 09, 2008 at 09:58:29 PM PDT

  •  Recommended reading (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kamarvt

    thank you for this diary.

    All we got was a media hoopla over Scooter f'in Libby and that guy is getting a pardon.

    "Libby was convicted of one count of obstruction, two counts of perjury and one count of lying to the FBI about how he learned Plame’s identity and whom he told."

    That's it, didn't even scratch the surface with that one. The real rats were breaking the law and hiding behind 'executive privilege'.

  •  Excellent diary (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you for writing it.

    I am going to be a jerk and point out that you are using the phrase, "begs the question," incorrectly.

    This term has traditionally been used to describe a form of circular reasoning where the conclusion is already assumed by the question.

    The Latin version, Petitio Principii, means "begging or taking for granted of the beginning or of a principle."

    An example would be: "If such actions were not illegal, then they would not be prohibited by the law."  Or: "The belief in God is universal. After all, everyone believes in God."

    Wikipedia
    List of fallacies
    Beg the Question headquarters

    TV pundits love to abuse this term.  My question is, if you really mean "suggests the question," why not just say that?

  •  And people wonder why I drink (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kamarvt

    Although it's depressing to see the list of this bunch's unpunished crimes all laid out in detail, and undoubtedly even tougher to do the detailing, I thank you for doing so. This diary joins several others on my hard drive for posterity's sake. Provided we're allowed posterity that is.

    Excellent work, if undoubtedly not even scratching the surface of the true scope.

    Meddle not in the affairs of dragons... for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

    by Pariah Dog on Thu Jul 10, 2008 at 03:46:48 AM PDT

    •  to me, it was the taping system (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pariah Dog

      It's hard to find documentation, but I vividly remember the news item about bush removing it days after taking the office. Within weeks we already had warrantless wiretapping (non-terrorism related), Cheney's Energy Task Force plotting the takeover of Iraq, and Enron.

      How anybody can look at even the public record of coverup by these thugs and NOT see a wide-ranging comrehensive criminal conspiracy boggles the mind.

      On Liberation Day, 1/20/09, Americans will greet us with flowers and candy

      by kamarvt on Thu Jul 10, 2008 at 04:20:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know it's easy to say after the fact (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Caneel, kamarvt

        but when I got up the morning after the 2000 election, and heard him say "I'm Walter Cronkite, and if you don't yet know who the President of the United States is, that's because I don't yet know who the President of the United States is" a chill ran down my spine.

        Given my gut reaction to the mere visage of Bush/Cheney, it was just inconcievable to me that the election could be close... let alone undecided. As the weeks passed, it became so obvious to me that something fishy was going on that, by the time SCOTUS took up the task, I knew this country's very existence was in jeopardy.

        Wish I had been wrong.

        Something is indeed going on, and it involves more than just Bush/Cheney, or the Republicans. This is something on a massive scale.

        Meddle not in the affairs of dragons... for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

        by Pariah Dog on Thu Jul 10, 2008 at 04:59:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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