Monday, July 10, 2006

An Administration That Just Doesn’t Get the Purpose of Law

Cheneyspeech_1Most of the whining has come from Dick Cheney through the auspices of his rottweiler, David Addington, but the intention is clear.
Anything the president does in the name of fighting terrorism is okay and any criticism of methods is giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
Which is understandable when you are writing a work of fiction, but completely misunderstands the purpose of law and how it works.
Washington D.C. (AHN) - President Bush on Monday sharply condemned the reports disclosing a secret program that monitored the financial transactions of suspected terrorists. "The disclosure of this program is disgraceful," he said.
Bushrumsfeld_3On the one hand, Bush would have us believe that al-Qaeda and their affiliated terrorist organizations are masters of the Internet and programmers able to infiltrate any American target they choose. On the other, this most obvious of follow the money techniques is presented as a disclosure that is disgraceful.

There are mumblings about ‘treason’ on the part of the NYTimes, as well as a reincarnation of the WWII ‘loose lips sink ships’ mentality. Well, WWII was long before the days when you could Google SWIFT (104 million entries), cell-phone network (97,100), Pentagon spy (5,110,000) and on and on through nearly any technology or system of surveillance you care to name and know how to spell.

Nuclear bomb specs brings up 683,000 entries, the first of which is “Documentation and Diagrams of the Atomic Bomb,” but it’s in English rather than Arabic, so a certain amount of linguistic assembly may be required.

DavidaddingtonDeterrence is what this is all about. Bush claims that his various tweaks and disregards of our constitutional protections are an all-out effort to ‘trap these guys before they show up on our doorstep.’ Snarling at Cheney’s side, David Addington doesn’t go that far. With David, presidential power is all about the unrestrained ability to ‘go for the throat’ and anyone who doesn’t understand that, understands neither Addington or Cheney.

Addington is so disconnected from the world outside his four-inch focal length that he doesn’t acknowledge that his trampling of American as well as international law has hurt his country. Like most misguided zealots, he thinks himself a patriot.
New Yorker-The Hidden Power-Known as the New Paradigm, this strategy rests on a reading of the Constitution that few legal scholars share—namely, that the President, as Commander-in-Chief, has the authority to disregard virtually all previously known legal boundaries, if national security demands it. Under this framework, statutes prohibiting torture, secret detention, and warrantless surveillance have been set aside. A former high-ranking Administration lawyer who worked extensively on national-security issues said that the Administration’s legal positions were, to a remarkable degree, “all Addington.”

As for the Administration’s legal defense of torture, which Addington played a central role in formulating, Arthur Schlesinger said, “No position taken has done more damage to the American reputation in the world—ever.”
Pretty much the only people who train attack-dogs (or Addingtons) are those who are paranoid or who have something to hide. Pot-growers come to mind, but we can probably discount that possibility. Nixon types come to mind as well and the main players in this discouraging piece of work (with the exception of the hapless president himself) are all men who sucked at the teat of the Nixon administration.

What Nixon never understood (likewise, these neo-Nixons) is that the law works most effectively as a deterrent when it is fully disclosed. The widely circulated rules of airport security are what discourages hijacking. It is the same with all security measures—they work because they are posted everywhere, called attention to and sung from the highest mountains. Bush has confused the importance of telling us (through Congress) with telling them.

Which, when you think about it, shows that he trusts us equally.
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