Newest McCain official: President has “near dictatorial powers”

McCain reaches into the most deceptive propaganda organ in America to staff the highest level of his communications apparatus.

Bill Kristol today proudly announces that one of his Weekly Standard staff members, Michael Goldfarb, was just named the Deputy Communications Director of the McCain campaign. Last April, this newest McCain official participated in a conference call with former Senator George Mitchell, during which Mitchell advocated a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Afterwards, this is what Goldfarb wrote about what he thinks are the powers the President possesses in our country:

Mitchell’s less than persuasive answer [to whether withdrawal timetables “somehow infringe on the president’s powers as commander in chief?”]: “Congress is a coequal branch of government…the framers did not want to have one branch in charge of the government.”True enough, but they sought an energetic executive with near dictatorial power in pursuing foreign policy and war. So no, the Constitution does not put Congress on an equal footing with the executive in matters of national security.

As I noted at the time:

Until the Bill Kristols and John Yoos and other authoritarians of that strain entered the political mainstream, I never heard of prominent Americans who describe the power that they want to vest in our political leaders as “near dictatorial.” Anyone with an even passing belief in American political values would consider the word “dictatorial” — at least rhetorically, if not substantively — to define that which we avoid at all costs, not something which we seek, embrace and celebrate.

And the very idea that the Founders — whose principal concern was how to avoid consolidated power in any one person — sought to vest “near dictatorial power” in the President is too perverse for words. But that’s been the core “principle” driving the destructive radicalism of the last seven years, and it’s an extremist view that is obviously welcomed at the highest levels of the McCain campaign.

Kristol closes his boastful announcement by noting that the pro-dictatorial Goldfarb will return to the Weekly Standard after the campaign ends — “unless he’s appointed national security adviser in the McCain White House.” Somehow, McCain continues to be depicted in the media as a “moderate” and the like despite the enthusiastic support of our nation’s most crazed and unprincipled warmongers. But even more revealing is that McCain is now staffing his communications apparatus at the highest levels by reaching into Bill Kristol’s The Weekly Standard — one of the most deceptive propaganda organs of the Bush years. Does one even need to point out that there are few things more incompatible with one another than “straight talk” and The Weekly Standard?

UPDATE: Michael Goldfarb on waterboarding and other illegal interrogation practices internationally considered to be “torture” (h/t A.L.):

The Times indicts the Bush administration for exposing terrorists captured abroad to “head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.” Boo hoo.

McCain is a deeply principled opponent of torture and waterboarding which is why his new communications official’s view of objections to those techniques is “Boo hoo.”

UPDATE II: Last October, this is what Goldfarb wrote in arguing that telecoms deserve amnesty even if they broke the law in enabling warrantless spying on Americans:

[I]f federal agents show up at a corporate headquarters for a major American company and urgently seek that company’s officers for assistance in the war on terror, the companies damn well ought to give it as a matter of simple patriotism, whether the CIA wants a plane for some extraordinary rendition or help in tracking terrorists via email. . . . [T]o expect a company to resist a plea from the government for help in a time of war is ridiculous.

So, consistent with his President-as-Dictator vision, McCain’s new communications official believes that — as I wrote at the time — when “federal agents” come knocking at your door and issue orders, you better “damn well” obey — you had better not “resist” — even if the orders you’re being given are illegal, even if they’re designed to spy on Americans in violation of the law, and even if they’re intended to facilitate the torture of detainees. That’s what patriotic Americans do — they obey the orders of their near-dictatorial Leader, so sayeth the heel-clicking Michael Goldfarb. That’s a superb, and very mainstream, new addition to the maverick McCain team.

Glenn Greenwald
Jun. 02, 2008

Source: Salon

Bob Barr A Poor Representative Of Liberty

The Libertarian Party recently nominated former Republican Congressman Bob Barr as their presidential nominee. This nomination represents a compromise of the principles that the Libertarian Party used to stand for. Party members decided that they were going to sell out the principles of their party in exchange for some coverage in the corporate controlled media. Is some coverage in the establishment media worth having a man at the front of the party with an incredibly dubious past pertaining to freedom and liberty? Although it is possible that Barr might have changed his ways and realized his mistakes for not abiding by the Constitution, his record speaks for itself. Barr voted in favor of the Patriot Act, worked for the CIA throughout the 1970s and supported the phony war on drugs for several years. The Patriot Act is one of the most tyrannical pieces of legislation ever passed in the history of the United States. The war on drugs is entirely against the principles of the Libertarian Party. Considering Barr’s record of supporting anti-freedom policies and legislation, he is not a suitable choice to vote for in the general election. If you want to vote for a candidate that believes in liberty and the Constitution, write in Ron Paul.

Barr won the nomination over Mary Ruwart who would have been a fine candidate to promote the Libertarian cause. Ruwart is an author who has supported the cause of individual freedom for many years. She is a long time member of the Libertarian party and had none of the baggage that Barr has. By selecting Barr as the presidential nominee, the Libertarian Party has selected a poor representative.

Below is a blurb from a Bloomberg report talking about how Barr has upset many Libertarians with his dubious past.

Barr has angered Libertarians by backing what they view as abuses of government, including efforts to crack down on drugs and his vote for the Patriot Act, which gave the government expanded powers, such as wiretapping, to fight terrorism. Civil libertarians condemn his co-sponsorship of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages, and his opposition to abortion.

Read moreBob Barr A Poor Representative Of Liberty

Bush Claims More Powers Than King George III

MASSACHUSETTS SCHOOL OF LAW AT ANDOVER

Bush Claims More Powers Than King George III,
Constitutional Scholar David Adler Contends

The Bush administration has arrogated powers to itself that the British people even refused to grant King George III at the time of the Revolutionary War, an eminent political scientist says.

“No executive in the history of the Anglo-American world since the Civil War in England in the 17th century has laid claim to such broad power,” said David Adler, a prolific author of articles on the U.S. Constitution. “George Bush has exceeded the claims of Oliver Cromwell who anointed himself Lord Protector of England.”

Adler, a professor of political science at Idaho State University at Pocatello, is the author of “The Constitution and the Termination of Treaties”(Taylor & Francis), among other books, and some 100 scholarly articles in his field. Adler made his comments comparing the powers of President Bush and King George III at a conference on “Presidential Power in America” at the Massachusetts School of Law, Andover, April 26th.

Adler said, Bush has “claimed the authority to suspend the Geneva Convention, to terminate treaties, to seize American citizens from the streets to detain them indefinitely without benefit of legal counseling, without benefit of judicial review. He has ordered a domestic surveillance program which violates the statutory law of the United States as well as the Fourth Amendment.”

Adler said the authors of the U.S. Constitution wrote that the president “shall take care to faithfully execute the laws of the land” because “the king of England possessed a suspending power” to set aside laws with which he disagreed, “the very same kind of power that the Bush Administration has claimed.”

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, Adler said, repeatedly referred to the President’s “override” authority, “which effectively meant that the Bush Administration was claiming on behalf of President Bush a power that the English people themselves had rejected by the time of the framing of the Constitution.”

Adler said the Framers sought an “Administrator in Chief” that would execute the will of Congress and the Framers understood that the President, as Commander-in-Chief “was subordinate to Congress.” The very C-in-C concept, the historian said, derived from the British, who conferred it on one of their battlefield commanders in a war on Scotland in 1639 and it “did not carry with it the power over war and peace” or “authority to conduct foreign policy or to formulate foreign policy.”

That the C-in-C was subordinate to the will of Congress was demonstrated in the Revolutionary War when George Washington, granted that title by Congress, “was ordered punctually to respond to instructions and directions by Congress and the dutiful Washington did that,” Adler said.

Adler said that John Yoo, formerly of the Office of Legal Counsel, wrote in 2003 that the President as C-in-C could authorize the CIA or other intelligence agencies to resort to torture to extract information from suspects based on his authority. However, Adler said, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1804 in Little vs. Barreme affirmed the President is duty-bound to obey statutory instructions and reaffirmed opinion two years later in United States vs. Smith.

“In these last eight years,” Adler said, “we have seen presidential powers soar beyond the confines of the Constitution. We have understood that his presidency bears no resemblance to the Office created by the Framers… This is the time for us to demand a return to the constitutional presidency. If we don’t, we will have only ourselves to blame as we go marching into the next war as we witness even greater claims of presidential power.”

The Massachusetts School of Law is a non-profit educational institution purposefully dedicated to providing an affordable, quality legal education to minorities, immigrants, and students from economic backgrounds that would not otherwise be able to afford to attend law school and enter the legal profession.

Read moreBush Claims More Powers Than King George III

European Parliament to ban Eurosceptic groups

Plans to eliminate Eurosceptics as an organised opposition within the European Parliament are expected to be agreed by a majority of MEPs this summer.

The European Union assembly’s political establishment is pushing through changes that will silence dissidents by changing the rules allowing Euro-MPs to form political groupings.

Richard Corbett, a British Labour MEP, is leading the charge to cut the number of party political tendencies in the Parliament next year, a move that would dissolve UKIP’s pan-European Eurosceptic “Independence and Democracy” grouping.

Under the rule change, the largest and most pro-EU groups would tighten their grip on the Parliament’s political agenda and keep control of lavish funding.

“It would prevent single issue politicians from being given undue support from the public purse,” said Mr Corbett.

“We want to avoid the formation of a fragmented Parliament, deeply divided into many small groups and unable to work effectively.”

Mr Corbett’s proposals will also give the President of the Parliament sweeping powers to approve or reject parliamentary questions.

Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, claimed that the move goes hand in hand with the denial of popular votes on the new EU Treaty.

Welcome to your future. This shows an EU mindset that is arrogant, anti-democratic and frankly scary,” he said.

“These people are so scared of public opinion they are willing to set in stone the right to ignore it. Freedom requires the governing elite to be held to account. They must be getting very worried if they are enacting such dictatorial powers for themselves.”

(Dictatorship & Fascism for the EU – The Infinite Unknown)

Read moreEuropean Parliament to ban Eurosceptic groups

US Military Officers Challenge Official Account of September 11

Twenty-five former U.S. military officers have severely criticized the official account of 9/11 and called for a new investigation. They include former commander of U.S. Army Intelligence, Major General Albert Stubblebine, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Col. Ronald D. Ray, two former staff members of the Director of the National Security Agency; Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, PhD, and Major John M. Newman, PhD, and many others. They are among the rapidly growing number of military and intelligence service veterans, scientists, engineers, and architects challenging the government’s story. The officers’ statements appear below, listed alphabetically.

Lt. Col. Robert Bowman, PhD “A lot of these pieces of information, taken together, prove that the official story, the official conspiracy theory of 9/11 is a bunch of hogwash. It’s impossible,” said Lt. Col. Robert Bowman, PhD, U.S. Air Force (ret). With doctoral degrees in Aeronautics and Nuclear Engineering, Col. Bowman served as Director of Advanced Space Programs Development under Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.

“There’s a second group of facts having to do with the cover up,” continued Col. Bowman. “Taken together these things prove that high levels of our government don’t want us to know what happened and who’s responsible. Who gained from 9/11? Who covered up crucial information about 9/11? And who put out the patently false stories about 9/11 in the first place? When you take those three things together, I think the case is pretty clear that it’s highly placed individuals in the administration with all roads passing through Dick Cheney.”

Regarding the failure of NORAD to intercept the four hijacked planes on 9/11, Col. Bowman said, “I’m an old interceptor pilot. I know the drill. I’ve done it. I know how long it takes. I know the rules. … Critics of the government story on 9/11 have said: ‘Well, they knew about this, and they did nothing’. That’s not true. If our government had done nothing that day and let normal procedure be followed, those planes, wherever they were, would have been intercepted, the Twin Towers would still be standing and thousands of dead Americans would still be alive.”

Read moreUS Military Officers Challenge Official Account of September 11

Oppositon to Iran Attack

Editor’s Note: Although this document, authored by House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, Jr., contains a direct appeal for political action we feel it is nonetheless striking. It is news unto itself. As such we offer it as news. ma/TO

From: The office of House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, Jr.

May 8, 2008

Join Me in Calling on President Bush to Respect Congress’ Exclusive Power to Declare War

Dear Democratic Colleague:

As we mark five years of war in Iraq, I have become increasingly concerned that the President may possibly take unilateral, preemptive military action against Iran. During the last seven years, the Bush Administration has exercised unprecedented assertions of Executive Branch power and shown an unparalleled aversion to the checks and balances put in place by the Constitution’s framers. The letter that follows asks President Bush to seek congressional authorization before launching any possible military strike against Iran and affirms Senator Biden’s statement last year that impeachment proceedings should be considered if the President fails to do so.

I hope that you will join me in calling on the President to respect Congress’ exclusive power to declare war. To sign the letter below, please contact the Judiciary Committee staff at 225-3951.

Sincerely,
John Conyers, Jr.
Chairman


May 8, 2008

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to register our strong opposition to possible unilateral, preemptive military action against other nations by the Executive Branch without Congressional authorization. As you know, Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power “to declare war,” to lay and collect taxes to “provide for the common defense” and general welfare of the United States, to “raise and support armies,” to “provide and maintain a navy,” to “make rules for the regulation for the land and naval forces,” to “provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions,” to “provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia,” and to “make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution … all … powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States.” Congress is also given exclusive power over the purse. The Constitution says, “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law.”

By contrast, the sole war powers granted to the Executive Branch through the President can be found in Article II, Section 2, which states, “The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into actual Service of the United States.” Nothing in the history of the “Commander-in-Chief” clause suggests that the authors of the provision intended it to grant the Executive Branch the authority to engage U.S. forces in military action whenever and wherever it sees fit without any prior authorization from Congress. In our view, the founders of our country intended this power to allow the President to repel sudden attacks and immediate threats, not to unilaterally launch, without congressional approval, preemptive military actions against foreign countries. As former Republican Representative Mickey Edwards recently wrote, “[t]he decision to go to war … is the single most difficult choice any public official can be called upon to make. That is precisely why the nation’s Founders, aware of the deadly wars of Europe, deliberately withheld from the executive branch the power to engage in war unless such action was expressly approved by the people themselves, through their representatives in
Congress.” [1]

Related quote: “Stop throwing the Constitution in my face. It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!” – G.W.Bush

Read moreOppositon to Iran Attack

Bloomberg’s End-run Around the Second Amendment

“In other words, New York is a Constitution free zone. But then so is much of the rest of the country, thanks to Bush, who considers the Constitution “just a goddamned piece of paper.”

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

In New York, the notorious gun-grabber Michael Bloomberg wants to censor the Second Amendment. “New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has moved from outrage to atrocity, said the Second Amendment Foundation, by asking anti-gun activist federal Judge Jack B. Weinstein to ban any reference to the Second Amendment during a civil lawsuit trial beginning May 27 against Georgia gun dealer Jay Wallace, proprietor at Adventure Outdoors,” reports PR Newswire.

But the “billionaire demagogue who considers himself so far above the law,” as Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, characterizes Bloomberg, wants to go after the First Amendment, too. Bloomberg wants a gag order slapped on the case. In “Mikey’s world… a fair trial is one in which a defense attorney is muzzled, and the defendant is already guilty until proven innocent. Bloomberg missed his calling. Instead of being mayor of an American city, he should have been the administrator of a gulag.”

Reports the New York Sun:

City lawyers, in a motion filed Tuesday, asked the judge, Jack Weinstein of U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, to preclude the store’s lawyers from arguing that the suit infringed on any Second Amendment rights belonging to the gun store or its customers. In the motion, the lawyer for the city, Eric Proshansky, is also seeking a ban on “any references” to the amendment.

“Any references by counsel to the Second Amendment or analogous state constitutional provisions are likewise irrelevant,” the brief states

In other words, New York is a Constitution free zone. But then so is much of the rest of the country, thanks to Bush, who considers the Constitution “just a goddamned piece of paper.” Bush and his coterie of Straussian neocons need to get rid of the Second Amendment in particular because militarized police states don’t go far if people have guns. Come marital law, Bush and crew may want to begin with New York, Chicago, and D.C., where restrictive gun laws rule. Short of some draconian law, it will be hard going out here in the hinterlands.

Read moreBloomberg’s End-run Around the Second Amendment

Pentagon Expands Propaganda Reach With Foreign “News” Websites

The Pentagon is expanding “Information Operations” on the Internet with purposefully set up foreign news websites that are designed to look like independent media sources but in reality are nothing more than direct military propaganda.

USA Today reports:

“The Pentagon is setting up a global network of foreign-language news websites, including an Arabic site for Iraqis, and hiring local journalists to write current events stories and other content that promote U.S. interests and counter insurgent messages.”

The websites at http://www.balkantimes.com, http://www.magharebia.com and http://mawtani.com are three of the said Pentagon run operations aimed at people in the Balkans, North Africa and Iraq.

The front pages of the sites appear to be populated with regionalized news stories, but the disclaimers buried within the sites and accessible only via small links at the bottom of the pages reveal that all three are run by the US Department of Defense.

See screenshots below for the disclaimers (click to link through):

The Mawtani.com disclaimer is in Arabic. It reads:

“(Mawtani.com is) sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense to support the resolution No. 1723 (of the) Security Council of the United Nations. (Mawtani.com) highlights and emphasizes the move towards greater regional stability through bilateral and multilateral cooperation … and the steps taken by governments towards stability in Iraq.”

Though Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England commented that the sites are “an essential part of (their) responsibility … to shape the security environment in their respective areas.”, other Pentagon spokesmen have claimed that the sites’ content is not intended as propaganda, but is “a counter to extremist propaganda … with truth.”

Michael Vickers, the assistant secretary of Defense in charge of special operations commented that the websites are designed to counter enemies on the internet who put out information that is not in keeping with the interests and goals of the U.S. military:

“It’s important to … engage these foreign audiences and inform,” Vickers said. “Our adversaries use the Internet to great advantage, so we have the responsibility of countering (their messages) with accurate, truthful information, and these websites are a good vehicle.”

Since when has the federal government and its war machine military been concerned with promoting the truth?

Read morePentagon Expands Propaganda Reach With Foreign “News” Websites

Watching How We Are Watched

The Wrong Way To Carry Out Video Surveillance in D.C.

For more than five years, security experts and privacy advocates have praised the public video surveillance network operated by the D.C. police department as the model of a well-balanced system. The department has adopted a set of common-sense regulations for its 91 cameras that give police access to footage when they need it while protecting the privacy rights of the millions who live or work in Washington.

We were greatly disappointed, then, to hear Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Darrell Darnell, director of the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, announce plans this month [front page, April 10] to centralize monitoring of more than 5,000 cameras, including those in and around our schools, public housing and residential neighborhoods. Even worse, it appears that Darnell’s office has no plans to apply the D.C. police department’s best-in-the-nation safeguards.

In February, the D.C. police released a report evaluating the successes and failures of the video surveillance system. The report concluded that since the network was expanded into residential areas, some types of crime have declined in those neighborhoods. The department was applauded for undertaking an examination of its own system: A public account of how a video surveillance system affects the lives of a city’s residents promotes accountability. Sadly, the reporting requirement is one that may be scrapped as the D.C. police department loses control of the network.

Unchecked video surveillance invades individual privacy rights. People in public spaces routinely engage in activities that they expect and desire to keep private. For example, consider attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting or seeking treatment at a fertility clinic — legal and private activities — while faceless individuals track your movements. This is an area in which the law has not kept pace with rapidly changing technology. We need well-reasoned guidelines to protect the privacy rights of individuals in the face of emerging surveillance tools.

Read moreWatching How We Are Watched

National “DNA warehouse” bill passes

Passing the House of Representatives on a voice vote, S. 1858 has been sent to President Bush for signature. The Newborn Genetic Screening bill was passed by the Senate last December.

The bill violates the U.S. Constitution and the Nuremberg Code, writes Twila Brase, president of the Citizen’s Council on Health Care (CCHC). “The DNA taken at birth from every citizen is essentially owned by the government, and every citizen becomes a potential subject of government-sponsored genetic research,” she states. “It does not require consent and there are no requirements to inform parents about the warehousing of their child’s DNA for the purpose of genetic research. Already, in Minnesota, the state health department reports that 42,210 children of the 780,000 whose DNA is housed in the Minnesota ‘DNA warehouse’ have been subjected to genetic research without their parents’ knowledge or consent.”

The federal government lacks the Constitutional authority as well as the competence to develop a newborn screening program, states Rep. Ron Paul, M.D. (R-TX). He states that all hospitals will probably scrap their own newborn testing program and adopt the federal model, whatever its flaws, to avoid the loss of federal funding.

“Drafters of the legislation made no effort to ensure that these newborn screening programs do not violate the privacy rights of parents and children,” Dr. Paul noted.

Ms. Brase has called on President Bush to veto the bill.

Additional information:

Source: Association of American Physicians and Surgeons