Category Archives: Patriot Act

Senator Thrashes Mexican Truck Policy

Mexican Truck Superhighway System

Have you been following this latest "let's gut the goose" outrage? A snide but combative Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters was accused in a Senate hearing yesterday of defying a congressional vote to halt the Bush administration's controversial project allowing Mexican trucks to operate freely on U.S. roads.

"I regret supporting your nomination to be secretary of transportation," Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-ND, told Peters. "Your legal counsel is giving you bad advice that unfortunately you have willingly accepted. "Dorgan charged the Department of Transportation was "hell-bent on proceeding with this pilot program" regardless of safety concerns the agency's inspector general continues to document. "You believe you have found a loophole, but you are making a very big mistake," Dorgan warned Peters, adding, "This is a slap in the face of Congress," he declared, "and your arrogance will have consequences."

Dorgan joined with Sen. Arlen Specter, R-PA, and Reps. Jim Oberstar, D-MN, and Peter DeFazio, D-OR, in a bipartisan, bicameral request for the General Accountability Office to investigate the DOT's decision to continue the cross-border Mexican truck demonstration project. The lawmakers charged DOT has violated the Antideficiency Act, which specifies both civil and criminal penalties when federal government officials spend money not appropriated by Congress.

Still, Peters indicated the Department of Transportation was determined to persist with the Mexican project even if a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals should order DOT to stop in response to a suit brought by the Teamsters. "We will appeal any adverse court decision to the Supreme Court," Peters told the committee, "but we have no plan right now to stop the current cross-border Mexican truck demonstration project."

As reported, the Senate voted 74 to 24 in September to prohibit the DOT from using any funds in its fiscal year 2008 budget for the truck project, a measure signed into law by President Bush Dec. 26 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The Bush administration, however, has decided to proceed with the program, contending the congressional language prohibited only the creation of future pilot programs, not the current one.

"This is sheer nonsense," Dorgan told Peters, opening what turned out to be a very tense hearing. "I have a letter from the Senate legislative counsel, who drafted this provision. The letter states very clearly that the amendment passed by Congress 'intended to preclude the carrying out of any demonstration program, including the pilot program put into effect in September 2007."

DOT general counsel D.J. Gribbin, accompanying Peters at the hearing, asserted the exact legislative language prohibited the department only from spending 2008 funds "to establish" any new programs. Gribbin further argued that by not specifying "establish or implement," Congress did not prohibit DOT from implementing a project that already had been established when the Dorgan amendment passed, regardless of what Congress may have intended.

In the following exchange, Dorgan expressed outrage, charging that Peters and the Bush administration were engaging in an exercise to parse words, when the legislative intent of Congress was clear. "You know better than that," Dorgan chided Gribbin. "I find it a creative way to read the statute, but everybody disagrees with you."

Dorgan produced a chart quoting Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, on the floor of the Senate the evening the Dorgan amendment passed, saying, "Unfortunately, the Senate has voted 74 to 24 to prevent the pilot from going forward."

"Everybody understood what we were voting for," Dorgan countered. "The vote was an overwhelming expression of the Senate to block the cross-border Mexican truck demonstration project, and everybody knew it."

Mary Peters
Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters

Also appearing with Peters was Calvin L. Scovel III, the DOT inspector general. Scovel's office issued an interim report Monday on the demonstration project which concluded that not every Mexican truck entering the U.S. was undergoing the safety checks Peters initially had promised Congress. "The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has yet failed to implement key quality control elements that the Department of Transportation assured Congress would now be in place," Scovel was forced to admit.

"We simply don't know if every Mexican truck has been inspected every time it enters the United States," he conceded under intense questioning from Dorgan.

In a statement issued Monday, Dorgan said the Transportation Department "is not above the law."

"When Congress passes a law that says no funds can be used for this program, we mean no funds can be used for this program," he said. "The Department of Transportation cannot simply pick and choose which laws they want to follow and which laws they want to break."

Treason Boils In The American Kettle

“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murder[er] is less to fear.”

—Marcus Tullius Cicero

"We've given you a Republic, if you can keep it..." replied Benjamin Franklin to the woman he called Liberty America.

Here are two parts of a ideal-shattering essay by Sibel Edmonds called The Hijacking of A Nation. Every patriot must read this essay, although it is bound to lead to much distress and demoralization of said patriotism. Are the facts contained within these two essays—truths, half-truths, or outright lies? The average citizen may never know, but he should be wary of all things.

In his farewell address in 1796, George Washington warned that America must be constantly awake against “the insidious wiles of foreign influence…since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.” Today, foreign influence, that most baneful foe of our republican government, has its tentacles entrenched in almost all major decision making and policy producing bodies of the U.S. government machine. It does so not secretly, since its self-serving activities are advocated and legitimized by highly positioned parties that reap the benefits that come in the form of financial gain and positions of power.

Foreign governments and foreign-owned private interests have long sought to influence U.S. public policy. Several have accomplished this goal; those who are able and willing to pay what it takes. Those who buy themselves a few strategic middlemen, commonly known as pimps, while in DC circles referred to as foreign registered agents and lobbyists, who facilitate and bring about desired transactions. These successful foreign entities have mastered the art of ‘covering all the bases’ when it comes to buying influence in Washington DC. They have the required recipe down pat: get yourself a few ‘Dime a Dozen Generals,’ bid high in the ‘former statesmen lobby auction’, and put in your pocket one or two ‘ex-congressmen turned lobbyists’ who know the ropes when it comes to pocketing a few dozen who still serve.

  • Part 1: Read it all.
    The real rulers in Washington are invisible and exercise power from behind the scenes.Justice Felix Frankfurter

    It used to be the three branches—congress, the executive, and the courts—that we considered the make-up of our nation’s federal government. And some would point to the press as a possible fourth branch, due to the virtue of its influence in shaping our policies. Today, more and more people have come to view corporate and foreign lobby firms, with their preponderant clout and enormous power, as the official fourth branch of our nation’s government. Not only do I agree with them, I would even take it a step further and give it a higher status it certainly deserves.

    Operating invisibly under the radar of media and public scrutiny, lobby groups and foreign agents have become the ‘epicenter’ of our government, where former statesmen and ‘dime a dozen generals’ cash in on their connections and peddle their enormous influence to the highest bidders turned clients. These groups’ activities shape our nation’s policies and determine the direction of the flow of its taxpayer driven wealth, while to them the interests of the majority are considered irrelevant, and the security of the nation is perceived as inconsequential.

  • Part 2: Read it all.

    Sibel Edmonds is the founder and director of National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC). Ms. Edmonds worked as a language specialist for the FBI. During her work with the bureau, she discovered and reported serious acts of security breaches, cover-ups, and intentional blocking of intelligence that had national security implications. After she reported these acts to FBI management, she was retaliated against by the FBI and ultimately fired in March 2002. Since that time, court proceedings on her case have been blocked by the assertion of “State Secret Privilege”; the Congress of the United States has been gagged and prevented from any discussion of her case through retroactive re-classification by the Department of Justice. Ms. Edmonds is fluent in Turkish, Farsi and Azerbaijani; and has a MA in Public Policy and International Commerce from George Mason University, and a BA in Criminal Justice and Psychology from George Washington University. PEN American Center awarded Ms. Edmonds the 2006 PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award.

  • Lawyering the War To Death And The Rest Of Us Through Infernal Taxes

    Pam Bondi
    Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
    by Michael Barone—Creators Syndicate, Inc.

    Lawyering the war to death, and the rest of us through infernal taxes. "Never in the history of the United States had lawyers had such extraordinary influence over war policy as they did after 9/11." Those are the words of Jack Goldsmith, the Harvard law professor who was one of those lawyers, as head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in 2003 and 2004. They appear in his book "The Terror Presidency," hailed as a criticism of the Bush administration's legal policies, which in part it is. Believing that some of his predecessor's opinions, particularly two on interrogation techniques, were "deeply flawed," he reversed them. He argues that the administration would have ended up with more latitude in fighting terrorism if it had worked with Congress to get legislation, even if those laws would not have been as expansive as the administration wanted. It's a serious argument, and he also presents fairly, I think, the opposing view that such restrictions would make it harder to protect the American people.

    But anyone who goes beyond the first newspaper stories and reads the book will find another message. For one thing, Goldsmith also supports many much-criticized policies—the detention of unlawful combatants in Afghanistan and their confinement in Guantanamo, trials by military commissions, the terrorist surveillance program. And he rejects the charge that the administration has disregarded the rule of law. Quite the contrary. "The opposite is true: the administration has been strangled by law, and since September 11, 2001, this war has been lawyered to death." There has been a "daily clash inside the Bush administration between fear of another attack, which drives officials into doing whatever they can to prevent it, and the countervailing fear of violating the law, which checks their urge toward prevention."

    It was not always so, he points out. In 1942, Franklin Roosevelt ordered military commissions to try the eight Nazi saboteurs who had landed on our shores; the Supreme Court unanimously approved, and six were executed six weeks after they were apprehended, to the applause of the media of the day. But FDR "acted in a permissive legal culture that is barely recognizable to us today."

    In the wake of Vietnam and Watergate, Congress passed laws that criminalized military and civilian officers who broke the rules on electronic surveillance and detainee treatment: "the criminalization of warfare." Its ban on political assassination deterred the Clinton administration from gunning down Osama bin Laden. The CIA has become so wary of possible criminal charges that it urges agents to buy insurance. Developments in international law, especially the doctrine of universal decision, also threaten U.S. government officials with possible prosecution abroad. All of this creates a risk-averseness that leaves us more vulnerable to terrorists.

    The CIA today employs more than 100 lawyers, the Pentagon 10,000. "Every weapon used by the U.S. military, and most of the targets they are used against, are vetted and cleared by lawyers in advance," Goldsmith notes. In this respect, the national security community resembles the larger society. As Philip Howard of Common Good points out, we are stripping jungle gyms from playgrounds and paying for unneeded medical tests for fear of lawsuits.

    The audiotapes released last week of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's interrogation remind us that we are faced with evil enemies and that getting information from them can save lives. Goldsmith, who withdrew his predecessor's interrogation opinions, nevertheless understands this and makes a strong case that our national security apparatus is overlawyered.

    Most Americans seem to agree; an Investor's Business Daily poll shows that more than 60% of Americans—and majorities of Democrats as well as Republicans—favor wiretapping terrorist suspects without warrants, increased surveillance, retaining the Patriot Act and holding enemy combatants at Guantanamo. Unfortunately, the 30% or so who disagree are disproportionately represented in the legal profession and in the media.

    The 1970s laws that have helped produce the overlawyering of this war were prompted by the misdeeds of one or two presidents. But they will hamper the efforts of our current president as well as his successors in responding to a threat that is likely to continue for many years to come.

    War Theories & Wet Nurses

    Bob Dylan
    Three opinions.

    1. I hate to tell you, but it's not 1624 anymore. In 1624, due to a wide variety of historical factors that are no longer present, rulers of a population were far more able to retain a chokehold on that population. Today's rulers do not have the command over their population that the Algerian pasha did. The Algerian pasha controlled the government, had formed an alliance with the pirates, and was holding Dutch prisoners in state prison. The dynamic between the terrorists/insurgents and national leaders is far more complex today (except in Pakistan, where Musharraf has allied with the radical Islamists): In Lebanon, Hezhbullah waged a fairly successul Jihad against Israel even as the the Lebanese PM pleaded for an end to the violence. Hamas has also used the state-within-a-state model. Finallly, all those Saudis on 9/11 did just fine without engineering a coup d'etat against the government.

    Unlike in 1624, today we are fighting a war not against governments and not against rulers, but against INDIVIDUALS. This means that our main task is to win over INDIVIDUALS—not to enrage an entire population by carrying out a grotesque killing. That worked in 1624, but there were no suicide bombers in 1624. Wake up. You're not in Algeria anymore.

    2. I disagree. We can only defeat Muslims if we fight them in a way they'll understand. It is true that we are fighting against individuals therefore we must fight in a way that eliminates enemy individuals while discouraging other individuals from fighting.

    The population of Algiers were outraged and, more important, distraught to see their loved ones hanged. They also knew the same would happen to them if they continued piracy. Right now, an individual who does a suicide-bombing in Tel Aviv knows he will be lionized while his family is financially rewarded by Saudi foundations. If he knew that his family instead would all be executed in the most viscous manner and then cremated, he might think twice before blowing himself up.

    One of Osama Bin Laden's sons just got married in London and lives free in the UK. An effective policy would be to round up all the family members of Al-Qaida, Hizbullah, and the Taliban leaders and start executing them until every terror organization is disbanded.

    Ancient Carthage continually threatened Rome until the Romans finally slaughtered all the Carthaginians and resettled the city with loyal subjects. They also defeated the army of Boudaccia the same way. Of this latter conflict Tacitus wrote, "they made a desert and called it peace." Well, it was cruel to make that desert but it did bring peace.

    3. The only thing I can think of at a time like this is a line from Bob Dylan. Well, what the hell, let's just go for the whole riffing song:

          They're selling postcards of the hanging
          They're painting the passports brown
          The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
          The circus is in town
          Here comes the blind commissioner
          They've got him in a trance
          One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
          The other is in his pants
          And the riot squad they're restless
          They need somewhere to go
          As Lady and I look out tonight
          From Desolation Row

          Cinderella, she seems so easy
          "It takes one to know one," she smiles
          And puts her hands in her back pockets
          Bette Davis style
          And in comes Romeo, he's moaning
          "You Belong to Me I Believe"
          And someone says," You're in the wrong place, my friend
          You better leave"
          And the only sound that's left
          After the ambulances go
          Is Cinderella sweeping up
          On Desolation Row

          Now the moon is almost hidden
          The stars are beginning to hide
          The fortunetelling lady
          Has even taken all her things inside
          All except for Cain and Abel
          And the hunchback of Notre Dame
          Everybody is making love
          Or else expecting rain
          And the Good Samaritan, he's dressing
          He's getting ready for the show
          He's going to the carnival tonight
          On Desolation Row

          Now Ophelia, she's 'neath the window
          For her I feel so afraid
          On her twenty-second birthday
          She already is an old maid

          To her, death is quite romantic
          She wears an iron vest
          Her profession's her religion
          Her sin is her lifelessness
          And though her eyes are fixed upon
          Noah's great rainbow
          She spends her time peeking
          Into Desolation Row

          Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
          With his memories in a trunk
          Passed this way an hour ago
          With his friend, a jealous monk
          He looked so immaculately frightful
          As he bummed a cigarette
          Then he went off sniffing drainpipes
          And reciting the alphabet
          Now you would not think to look at him
          But he was famous long ago
          For playing the electric violin
          On Desolation Row

          Dr. Filth, he keeps his world
          Inside of a leather cup
          But all his sexless patients
          They're trying to blow it up
          Now his nurse, some local loser
          She's in charge of the cyanide hole
          And she also keeps the cards that read
          "Have Mercy on His Soul"
          They all play on penny whistles
          You can hear them blow
          If you lean your head out far enough
          From Desolation Row

          Across the street they've nailed the curtains
          They're getting ready for the feast
          The Phantom of the Opera
          A perfect image of a priest
          They're spoonfeeding Casanova
          To get him to feel more assured
          Then they'll kill him with self-confidence
          After poisoning him with words

          And the Phantom's shouting to skinny girls
          "Get Outa Here If You Don't Know
          Casanova is just being punished for going
          To Desolation Row"

          Now at midnight all the agents
          And the superhuman crew
          Come out and round up everyone
          That knows more than they do
          Then they bring them to the factory
          Where the heart-attack machine
          Is strapped across their shoulders
          And then the kerosene
          Is brought down from the castles
          By insurance men who go
          Check to see that nobody is escaping
          To Desolation Row

          Praise be to Nero's Neptune
          The Titanic sails at dawn
          And everybody's shouting
          "Which Side Are You On?"
          And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot
          Fighting in the captain's tower
          While calypso singers laugh at them
          And fishermen hold flowers
          Between the windows of the sea
          Where lovely mermaids flow
          And nobody has to think too much
          About Desolation Row

          Yes, I received your letter yesterday
          (About the time the door knob broke)
          When you asked how I was doing
          Was that some kind of joke?
          All these people that you mention
          Yes, I know them, they're quite lame
          I had to rearrange their faces
          And give them all another name
          Right now I can't read too good
          Don't send me no more letters no
          Not unless you mail them
          From Desolation Row

    As they say, all's fair in love and war. Oh, I forgot. They don't say that anymore in the declassé world of war theories and wet nurses...

    2 Muslim Crackers In South Carolina

    I'M GOING TO LEAVE this one entirely up to the ouraged (as am I) readers over at Jihad Watch. A racial profiling discussion, at its best.