Thursday, August 9

Amerika Watch: White House Brown-Shirting More Civil Liberties, Tax Dollars

The Administration ... appears to have used the war on terror as an excuse to eviscerate the basic protections afforded to us in the Constitution....We have seen so many transgressions by this Administration that it is easy to forget last week's scandal amid this week's new outrage.--Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), 4 August 2006

Though regular mainstream media news consumers have little opportunity to appreicate the fact, the Bush-Cheney White House is steamrolling civil liberties--many already languishing on life-support--at a dizzying rate.

Consider some recent White House episodes of "fascism-ization" ignored by U.S. news outlets.

On 5 August, London's Sunday Times reported that 51 Filipinos were "kidnapped" --apparently with tacit approval of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee--to construct the Oil Administration's massive new embassy in Baghdad's green zone. With a budget that ballooned to $1.3 billion, the "fortified embassy - a cluster of 21 high-rise towers occupying 104 acres on the west bank of the River Tigris - will house 3,000 staff. It is regarded as one of the most dangerous building projects in the world."

Heightened global antipathy aroused by post-9/11 American policies also has prompted a $17.5 billion construction budget for 150 new embassies, a plan the State Department is implementing at the expense of other federal agencies, including Health and Human Services.

Among the Filipinos laborers flying to Iraq was Rory Mayberry, a UK emergency medical technician. He recently told Congress that his fellow passengers became so outraged minutes after take-off on learning their destination was Baghdad instead of the United Arab Emirates printed on their boarding passes that an machine"gun-toting air steward" had to order them back to their seats.

“Let me spell it out clearly. I was being smuggled past US security forces,” Mayberry told the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee of the complicity of U.S. authorities; he worked only briefly at the embassy construction site because of the slave-like conditions.

In an asinine statement following Mayberry's testimony, Democrat Henry Waxman, committee chair, intoned that human trafficking and forced labor were "sending exactly the wrong message to Iraq and the rest of the world about U.S. respect for human rights.”
We all can hear those labor slavers quaking with fear, Henry.

The White House's full-spectrum fascism also landed much closer to home last week when the Transportation Security Agency set up two check points for riders on Indianapolis's bus system. Though passengers' could assert their 4th amendment right against unreasonable searches, most still willingly submitted to agents patting them down and looking through bags and parcels before boarding.

But it is whistleblowers--those who leak stories on the White House's illegal secret programs--who are its favorite target despite federal laws protecting them from retribution. Two recently were singled out for special legal abuse who in 2004 revealed the Administration's torture and covert wiretapping.

Last year, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "in the most astonishing way" purposely blew promised anonymity for Joe Darby, a military policeman at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison who leaked the infamous photos of sadistic torture and abuse of Iraqis by army comrades.

According to the BBC
[Darby] was sitting in a crowded Iraqi canteen with hundreds of soldiers and Donald Rumsfeld came on the television to thank Joe Darby by name for handing in the photographs.

"I don't think it was an accident because those things are pretty much scripted," Mr Darby says....

"I was afraid for retribution not only from [those photographed torturing and abusing Iraqis], but from other soldiers," he says.

..After Donald Rumsfeld blew his cover, he was bundled out of Iraq and lived under armed protection for the first six months.
Just days before the Democrat-controlled U.S. House voted 227-183 to capitulate on the White House's warrantless spying on Americans, the FBI also arrested Thomas M. Tamm, the DoJ intelligence review official who leaked details of the program to the New York Times. At the White House's request, the paper withheld Tamm's revelations until December 2005.

Though Bush said the warrantless wiretapping that bypasses Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) review courts was a necessary response to heightened terrorist threats after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a declassified document revealed the eavesdropping on Americans' electronic communication before 9/11.

According to the aptly name blog Crooks and Liars:
This past week, the Bush administration added insult to injury over its illegal program of NSA domestic surveillance. During the very time Congress was debating codifying President Bush’s lawbreaking by revising the FISA law many of his allies have been afraid to publicly challenge as unconstitutional, Alberto Gonzales’ DOJ was raiding the home of a former Justice official to identify the person who first brought the illicit program to light.

As Michael Isikoff details in Newsweek, a team of FBI agents raided the home of Thomas M. Tamm, a veteran prosecutor and former official of the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR) within DOJ:

The agents seized Tamm’s desktop computer, two of his children’s laptops and a cache of personal files. Tamm and his lawyer, Paul Kemp, declined any comment. So did the FBI. But two legal sources who asked not to be identified talking about an ongoing case told NEWSWEEK the raid was related to a Justice criminal probe into who leaked details of the warrantless eavesdropping program to the news media. The raid appears to be the first significant development in the probe since The New York Times reported in December 2005 that Bush had authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the international phone calls and e-mails of U.S. residents without court warrants.

Even as Alberto Gonzales’ was feebly deflecting perjury charges by apologizing for “creating confusion” with his comments about “no serious disagreement” in 2004 within the administration over its NSA homeland spying scheme, the Attorney General was dispatching the FBI to investigate one of those purportedly disagreeable officials. Read on
The American Civil Liberities Union has an online factsheet before the House's warantless-affirming vote covering "the top ten distortions and lies used by the Bush Administration to justify the illegal NSA spying, and the legal realities every American should know."
MYTH: This is merely a "terrorist surveillance program."
REALITY: When there is evidence a person may be a terrorist, both the criminal code and intelligence laws already authorize eavesdropping. This illegal program, however, allows electronic monitoring without any showing to a court that the person being spied upon in this country is a suspected terrorist.

MYTH: The program is legal.
REALITY: The program violates the Fourth Amendment and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and will chill free speech.

MYTH: The Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) allows this.
REALITY: The resolution about using force in Afghanistan doesn't mention wiretaps and doesn't apply domestically, but FISA does--it requires a court order.

MYTH: The president has authority as commander in chief of the military to spy on Americans without any court oversight.
REALITY: The Supreme Court recently found the administration's claim of unlimited commander in chief powers during war to be an unacceptable effort to "condense power into a single branch of government," contrary to the Constitution's checks and balances.

Read more....MYTH: The president has authority as commander in chief of the military to spy on Americans without any court oversight.
REALITY: The Supreme Court recently found the administration's claim of unlimited commander in chief powers during war to be an unacceptable effort to "condense power into a single branch of government," contrary to the Constitution's checks and balances. Read more....
Congressional Democrats campaigned last fall as a viable ballast to the White House's industrial-strength assault on civil liberties and human rights. But to date they only have distinguished themselves by eager willingness to slather on more make-up for TV sound bytes lifted from their interminable dog-and-pony productions on Capitol Hill.

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