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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A further claim of extraordinary executive powers

The DOMESTIC NSA spying is bad, but this little mention in the Boston Globe should get everybody's ears up.

WASHINGTON A footnote in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's 42-page legal memo defending President Bush's domestic spying program appears to argue that the administration does not need Congress to extend the USA Patriot Act in order to keep using the law's investigative powers against terror suspects.

If this is the case, at what limit does the executive's powers lie?

A secondary issue in all ths is that the power to designate someone as a terror suspect is currently solely claimed by the executive as well, a designation they have been attempting to extend to include "environmental terrorists" and "narco-terrorists" (drug dealers.) There is no ability to challenge the status of "terror suspect" and as far as I can tell, no burden of proof, and no review by anyone outside the administration.

It also calls into question the official status of the antiwar protesters who showed up on the DoD's watch list. The NSA is a part of the Defense Department, so does an appearance on the DoD's threats list warrant terrorist status avail the government the justification during "war time" to tap their phones and conduct "sneak and peek" no notification searches?

In effect, the Bush administration has claimed the ability to spy on anyone. But it's worse than that.

Once a subject is designated as a terror suspect, this administration has claimed the power to tap their phones, and examine any business records without warrant(medical, financial, psychological,) and search their residence all without review. To then detain them without charge, to ship them off to a "black site" base or "friendly" country for aggressive interrogation or outright torture. And then to use that information to designate others as "terror suspects" and potentially repeat the whole process in an exponentially exapanding tree.

Explain again to me just freedoms you are protecting, Mr. Bush. The freedom of "security of person" is the base right from which all other gurantees flow. It is the first guarantted right in the UN's 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which the US is a signatory.

"Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person."
Article 3, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

At this point, it appears that these programs are affecting thousands, maybe tens of thousands in a country of 300 million. But there is no effective limit to the scale of powers claimed by this administration. One is too many.

The pieces are in place, folks.

I would love to hear Bush answer the question, "what are the limits to the powers you claim?"


  • ...argue that the administration does not need Congress to extend the USA Patriot Act in order to keep using the law's investigative powers against terror suspects.

    Holy autocracy Batman! This is rule by executive decree.

    You and I are thinking alike again. I just blogged on Gonzales acting like an administration cheerleader rather than as the AG. Can I link this? Oh hell, I'm going to anyway. Just warning ya'. :-)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:06 PM  

  • I KNOW firsthand that ALL of this is true, I am a nurse , a mom, I have NO connections to Osama- I just happened to blow the whistle on a large Chemical company as an environmental investigator. My Hell with this regime Began BEFORE 911 ( come over to http;//watergatesummer.blogspot.com/) , This Regime is using EVERY possible resource to spy and retaliate, and harrass any people they view as an Enemy- it has not a damn thing to do with terrorism. I fear that MANY are on these Lists, and being surveilled or monitored and we don't know...I don't hink I am the only one.

    By Blogger enigma4ever, at 9:14 PM  

  • You make an excellent point.

    Yet, I've had it told to me by Conservative Attorneys that our obligations to the UN Charter, rather than being a constituent treaty, it's merely an International Suggestion.

    They hate the Supremacy Clause and they hate any restrictions on their ability to control every aspect of our lives.

    By Anonymous CV Rick, at 9:38 PM  

  • Wow.

    Those are great comments.

    Honestly, Rick, I am not an international expert, I was just trying to make the argument from a different angle. And, yeah, no UN agreements are technically binding unless someone is willing to bring it up and force a decision by the country in question whether to reform or abandon it. Even the IAEA which does carry some force is a voluntary agreement.

    And, enigma, that's one of the reasons I often include my astonishment at the inclusion of "enviro-terrorists," in terror statutes. Very occasionally, someone is hurt in one of their actions, but largely they are actions against corporate property and policy. This is why it terrifies me so. Organized hate groups, Christian identity, KKK, as examples, not to mention the anti-abortion clinic attackers, are not treated specially under statute.

    Corporate power is protected under the Bush interpretation of terror, but individuals, really, are not.

    And, Kvatch, it's terrifying to me. Under their legal argument, the only thing prevenmting them from tapping solely in the US is their decision. Under the sweeping powers they claim, there is no legal distinction between the points of tapping.


    By Blogger mikevotes, at 10:38 PM  

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