FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The GOP’s HATCHet Man

 

“Wartime is not a time to weaken the commander in chief,” says paramount partisan hack Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), responding to the testimony of former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean at Friday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sen. Russ Feingold’s Bush censure motion.

A good question for the senator might be this: if the war in question is the so-called “War on Terror,” when exactly might we consider it an appropriate time for “weakening” the commander in chief?

President Bush has used this faux “war” as justification for all manner of power grabs, from the invasion of a country to the ignoring of acts Congress, to the violation of court orders to the violation of federal laws, to the termination of citizenship rights. By Bush’s–and Hatch’s–reasoning, the president cum commander in chief could order the secret arrest, detention, torture and execution of any one of us, could cancel national elections, could indeed, declare martial law and have done with the Constitution altogether.

And since this “war” will never end–terrorism having been with us for as far back as you want to look, and likely to be with us forever–Hatch’s argument is a prescription for dictatorship.

It’s amazing to watch how these self-described conservatives are trashing their own philosophy of limited government and traditional values.

Just imagine what the Founding Fathers would have had to say about this idea of presidential omnipotence and infallibility.

Actually, we don’t have to imagine what they’d say. As I note in my new book The Case for Impeachment (see above right), they pretty much said it all.

Here’s Jefferson, on the idea of a president violating the rights of citizens. In a letter to a friend, Isaac Tiffany, he wrote in 1819: “Law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.”

His political and philosophical rival, Alexander Hamilton, had this to say about the idea of scrapping habeas corpus and clapping people in jail without charges and the right to a public trial: “To bereave a man of life or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole nation; but confinement of the person by secretly hurrying him to gaol, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government.”

More to the point in the current censure debate, James Madison said: “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether or one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

And of course, there is old Ben Franklin, now celebrating his 300th birthday, who said simply: “Those who would give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security.”

Orrin Hatch’s words will not go down in history, it’s safe to say, but it’s worth noting what prompted them. He was responding to the testimony of John Dean, a man whose last occasion to testify before Congress was in 1974, during the Senate Watergate hearings, when he spilled the beans about president Nixon’s constitutional crimes. And he was responding to comments made by the censure motion’s author, Sen. Feingold (D-WI).

Dean told the Judiciary Committee that Bush’s warrantless NSA spying authorization was worse than anything Nixon had done, and he added, “Had the Senate or House, or both, censured or somehow warned Richard Nixon, the tragedy of Watergate might have been prevented.”

For his part, Feingold said, “If we in the Congress don’t stand up for ourselves and the American people, we become complicit in the lawbreaking.”

My guess is that Dean’s and Feingold’s words will resonate decades hence far more than the words of the enabler from Utah.

But Feingold, who is contemplating a run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, might have added that if the American people this November return to Congress the very Republican partisan hacks and Democratic cowards who have allowed this president to become the Willie Sutton of constitutional violators, We the People will be complicit in Bush’s crimes.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s new book, “The Case for Impeachment“,
co-authored by Barbara Olshansky, is due out May 1.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

 

 

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

January 16, 2019
Patrick Bond
Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World
John Grant
Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell
Alvaro Huerta
Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.
Kenneth Surin
A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons
Elizabeth Henderson
Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion
Jeff Mackler
Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?
Cesar Chelala
Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden
Kim C. Domenico
To Make a Vineyard of the Curse: Fate, Fatalism and Freedom
Dave Lindorff
Criminalizing BDS Trashes Free Speech & Association
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Edward Curtin
A Gentrified Little Town Goes to Pot
January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Que Syria, Syria
Dave Lindorff
A Potentially Tectonic Event Shakes up the Mumia Abu-Jamal Case
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail