FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Crumpling the Constitution

by Walt Brasch

With one word, a federal judge has described not only John Ashcroft’s handling of the Department of Justice, but also the Bush administration’s policy of citing national security as the
reason why it’s trying to hide the Constitution from
Americans.

U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar says Ashcroft’s super-secret policies and violation of basic Constitutional guidelines sounds “idiotic.”

Yaser Esam Hamdi, 21, an American citizen born in Louisiana
but captured in Afghanistan, has been confined at the Norfolk (Va.) Naval Station since April 5. The Justice Department claims that since Hamdi is a captured enemy combatant not only isn’t he entitled to legal representation but can be held indefinitely since he hasn’t been charged with any crime. “That sounds idiotic, doesn’t it?” asks Judge Doumar. Ashcroft also believes it’s the government’s right to record all lawyer-client communication; Judge Doumar, citing the Constitution and more than two centuries of American legal precedent, disagrees.

In a related case, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler will decide if the government has any Constitutional basis to keep secret the names and charges against those it currently
detains as terrorists. Ironically, the Justice Department admits that many of those it’s hiding from the public are not terrorist suspects. In numerous actions, Ashcroft and Vice-President Dick Cheney have retreated into their bunkers, arguing that the secrecy and the shredding of Constitutional guidelines are necessary for national
security. Cheney himself told the Senate leadership in
February that Bush officials would probably defy all
attempts to question them about what they knew before and
after the Sept. 11 attacks. Both Ashcroft and Cheney have
labeled dissent, even by leaders of both major political
parties, to be unpatriotic, something that should cause even
more fear in Americans than anything that happened Sept. 11.

The Bush administration’s quest for secrecy is understandable, considering it was primarily staring at headlights prior to Sept. 11. Newsweek and numerous other publications now report that the Bush administration, probably for political reasons, discounted the Clinton administration’s severe and substantial warnings about terrorist activities. Ashcroft himself opposed an FBI proposal to add more counter-terrorism agents. Numerous memos by the CIA, backed by data from foreign intelligence agencies, were shuffled into a bureaucratic limbo by the Bush administration. These are the same leaders who agreed that color-coded days was a brilliant concept are now chomping away at our civil rights.

In the first weeks after the attacks, Americans gave the government wide latitude to seek out and destroy those responsible. The people realized they may have to temporarily yield a few of their own civil rights to gain their permanent security, a reality of life but one that would have shocked and saddened the nation’s founders who wrote our keystone documents under terrors we can’t even imagine.

John Ashcroft saw the confusion after Sept. 11 as political convenience. Within two months, drafted in secret under a cloak of “national security,” Ashcroft had bullied Congress to pass the USA Patriot Act. Most of Congress now admit they didn’t read the 342-page document which butts against Constitutional protections of the First (free speech), Fourth (unreasonable searches), Fifth (right against self-incrimination), and Sixth (due process) amendments.

President Bush–in Europe telling our allies that the reason to modernize the military is to make it more modern–has cloaked himself in the fiction of national security to justify a political agenda of secrecy. His popularity rating remains over 60 percent, even though his leading political advisor joyfully proclaims that the events of Sept. 11 should help elect more Republicans in the Fall elections.

What the President and his advisors must understand, yet may not be prepared to admit, is that Americans are giving unprecedented support not because they believe the President is a brilliant war leader but because they believe in the country, and hope that solidarity and increased vigilance will be the fortress against continued attacks upon the nation.

FBI director Robert Mueller, acknowledging numerous problems in America’s intelligence-gathering and analysis, and in announcing a massive reorganization of his agency, says the FBI “has been the agency to protect the rights of others.”

As long as John Ashcroft, Dick Cheney, and numerous Bush officials believe the Constitution is nothing more than a scrap of paper to be used to justify a cover-up for their own problems, then anything Mueller says is nothing more than empty rhetoric.

It is important to destroy terrorism. It’s just as important we don’t destroy the American fabric to do so.

Walter M. Brasch, Ph.D. is a professor of journalism at Bloomsburg University. His most recent book is Bill Clinton: The Joy of Sax. Walt has been sidelined with a nasty illness the past few weeks and is just now getting some of his old energy back. He love to hear from you and may be reached at brasch@bloomu.edu.

 

 

Walter Brasch is an award-winning social issues journalist. His latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania, an analysis of the history, economics, and politics of fracking, as well as its environmental and health effects.

More articles by:
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Fearsome: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail