January 6, 2006
Here are some questions and answers designed to help you understand the workings of the new and streamlined Cheney/Bush Imperial presidency .
This would seem humorous if it were not so dam close to the truth .
Allen L Roland
A Brief Primer... Designed to Help You Understand the Workings of Our New, Streamlined American System of Government
(Thanks to Crooks and Liars Update, Jan 3, 2006
by Jon Carroll )
Perhaps you have been unable to follow the intricacies of the logic used by John Yoo, the UC Berkeley law professor who has emerged as the president's foremost legal apologist for all the stuff he has to apologize for. I have therefore prepared a brief, informal summary of the relevant arguments.
Why does the president have the power to unilaterally authorize wiretaps of American citizens?
Because he is the president.
Does the president always have that power?
No. Only when he is fighting the war on terror does he have that power.
When will the war on terror be over?
The fight against terror is eternal. Terror is not a nation; it is a tactic. As long as the president is fighting a tactic, he can use any means he deems appropriate.
Why does the president have that power?
It's in the Constitution.
Where in the Constitution?
It can be inferred from the Constitution. When the president is protecting America, he may by definition make any inference from the Constitution that he chooses. He is keeping America safe.
Who decides what measures are necessary to keep America safe?
Who has oversight over the actions of the president?
The president oversees his own actions. If at any time he determines that he is a danger to America, he has the right to wiretap himself, name himself an enemy combatant and spirit himself away to a secret prison in Egypt.
But isn't there a secret court, the FISA court, that has the power to authorize wiretapping warrants? Wasn't that court set up for just such situations when national security is at stake?
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court might disagree with the president. It might thwart his plans. It is a danger to the democracy that we hold so dear. We must never let the courts stand in the way of America's safety.
So there are no guarantees that the president will act in the best interests of the country?
The president was elected by the people. They chose him; therefore he represents the will of the people. The people would never act against their own interests; therefore, the president can never act against the best interests of the people. It's a doctrine I like to call "the triumph of the will."
But surely the Congress was also elected by the people, and therefore also represents the will of the people. Is that not true?
It's sounding more and more as if your version of the presidency resembles an absolute monarchy. Does it?
Of course not. We Americans hate kings. Kings must wear crowns and visit trade fairs and expositions. The president only wears a cowboy hat and visits military bases, and then only if he wants to.
Can the president authorize torture?
No. The president can only authorize appropriate means.
Could those appropriate means include torture?
It's not torture if the president says it's not torture. It's merely appropriate. Remember, America is under constant attack from terrorism.
The president must use any means necessary to protect America.
Won't the American people object?
Not if they're scared enough.
What if the Supreme Court rules against the president?
The president has respect for the Supreme Court. We are a nation of laws, not of men. In the unlikely event that the court would rule against the president, he has the right to deny that he was ever doing what he was accused of doing, and to keep further actions secret. He also has the right to rename any practices the court finds repugnant.
"Wiretapping" could be called "protective listening." There's nothing the matter with protective listening.
Recently, a White House spokesman defended the wiretaps this way: "This is not about monitoring phone calls designed to arrange Little League practice or what to bring to a potluck dinner. These are designed to monitor calls from very bad people to very bad people who have a history of blowing up commuter trains, weddings and churches." If these very bad people have blown up churches, why not just arrest them?
That information is classified.
Have many weddings been blown up by terrorists?
No, they haven't, which is proof that the system works. The president does reserve the right to blow up gay terrorist weddings -- but only if he determines that the safety of the nation is at stake. The president is also keeping his eye on churches, many of which have become fonts of sedition. I do not believe that the president has any problem with commuter trains, although that could always change.
So this policy will be in place right up until the next election?
Election? Let's just say that we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. It may not be wise to have an election in a time of national peril.
Allen L Roland is a practicing psychotherapist, author and lecturer who also shares a daily political and social commentary on his weblog http://blogs.salon.com/0002255/ and website www.allenroland.com He also guest hosts a monthly national radio show TRUTHTALK on Conscious talk radio www.conscioustalk.net