Monday, March 06, 2006

I want my freedoms kept intact

“It is fundamental that the great powers of Congress to conduct war and to regulate the Nation’s foreign relations are subject to the constitutional requirements of due process. The imperative necessity for safeguarding these rights to procedural due process under the gravest of emergencies has existed throughout our constitutional history, for it is then, under the pressing exigencies of crisis, that there is the greatest temptation to dispense with fundamental constitutional guarantees which, it is feared, will inhibit governmental action.

“The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances.... In no other way can we transmit to posterity unimpaired the blessings of liberty, consecrated by the sacrifices of the Revolution.” - Justice Arthur Goldberg, Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez (a case about draft evasion).

This is from a an address given by Senator Russ Feingold, D-WI, back in October of 2001 to Associated Press Managing Editors Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the address he explains why he stood alone among U.S. Senators and voted against the poorly named 'Patriot Act.'

How ironic that I'm represented in Washington by both the prick, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-WI, who wrote the Act and also one of the few men to oppose it.

Anyway, the full address is worth a read. One thing worth noting is the early mentions of the FISA Court and how it may be abused by law enforcement agencies. Surprisingly, even the loose standards needed to obtain a warrant from that court were deemed too rigid by president Bush, who simply chose to ignore the need to follow the law.

What an amazing legacy this president is leaving behind. During his Caesarlike reign, he has allowed terrorists to strike our country and fly airplanes into some of the largest buildings in the world. He has failed to find and bring to justice those responsible.

One of Washington's most visible lobbyists and a big supporter of the President and the Republican party has been indicted and faces multiple criminal charges.

His Vice President has been implicated in revealing the identity of a CIA agent for political reasons and the chief of staff of said Vice President faces a felony charge stemming from the incident.

The U.S. House majority leader is under indictment and is facing criminal charges.

In the first great test of how ready the country is to face a major catastrophy, the newly created Department of Homeland Security failed on a grand scale when faced with a natural disaster. How much faith do you really have in this Department to either provide security or to respond to any large-scale emergency? How will they respond to a 'dirty bomb' in a major city, or an attack on our food or water supply?

Despite increased security measures at airports, they are not much more secure now than they were before the 9/11 attacks. In fact, the commision charged with investigating what went wrong and why the attacks were succesful condemned the lack of preparation and failure to head repeated warnings that a terrorist strike was imminent. The commision believes so strongly that this administration hasn't done enough to ensure the security of this nation since the report was first released, that they have stayed together and formed a group to push for reforms.

Our ports are still not secure and have yet to receive the funds and direction needed to make them secure.

The President has allowed the systematic movement of people from areas that don't allow torture to countries that do allow torture while continuing to say that the U.S. doesn't torture anyone. We're continuing to imprison people in Cuba without charging them with any crimes and the President is continuing to push for less and less legal options to be afforded to those held.

The deficit has grown beyond any previous record amounts and continues to mount as we continue to pay for a 'war' without any plans for success. In fact, the President hasn't even given the country an outline of what might be considered a successful conclusion. The idea is apparently to just keep on plugging away and we'll know when we're done when we're done.

The President still faces allegations that he and his staff misled Congress before sending troops to Iraq. Certainly, the main reasons given for going have been proven to be groundless. And now, even the revisionist explanation of freeing the Iraqi people from tyranny is being questioned.

And still the drumbeat goes on.

The 'Patriot Act' will is still in place and more and more little liberties are being eroded in the name of fighting terrorism. If you trust the government, then this is probably not much of a concern to you. If, like me, you don't trust the government to act in your best interests then you're probably concerned.

Maybe you believe that removing your shoes at the airport makes the airways more secure. In that case, you needn't concern yourself. But if you believe that employing screeners slightly higher qualified and paid than the person handing you a Happy Meal at the drive thru isn't much of safeguard, then you should probably be a bit worried.


The American way of life will continue, but what will it be a decade from now if we give away the very things that make it the American Way?

And, if I don't raise my voice and express my concerns that we're heading the wrong way, then I'm as guilty as the people driving when we arrive at the wrong destination.


Melissa said...

OPPS! Half way through my flight I realized I had accidentally made it through security with my swiss army pocket knife still in my purse.

I am sure they looked at my shoes real closely though.

Well written piece. What is the answer? How can we elect better people?

K said...

I heart Canada.

I say that because I am blissfully unaware of similar problems in the Northern half of the continent. And, hot damn, you are one knowledgeable fella. I read most of this thinking, "gawrsh, I shore dunno whut all dem purty wuurds er abowt".

Your intellect astounds. Maybe you should run for office... ;o)

Heathen said...

I have a great airplane/shoe story. I had forgotten that I had an 1/8" thick metal bookmark in my backpack (I had thought that I lost it) when I went through the line, so I got pulled over after I went through the metal detector. It took then 10 minutes of searching my backpack to find it, then declared that since it had a semi-pointy end I couldn't take it on the plane. I put it in my suitcase and checked by bag, then went through the line again. This time my shoes set off the metal detector (they didn't the first time I went through). As I was taking off my shoes, I mentioned this inconsistency to the security guard. His reponse was that this happens all the time- sometimes something will set off the metal detector, other times the exact same object won't. Makes you feel really secure.

Also, I can't remember if this was the same trip where my homemade truffles set off the bomb sniffing device (I can only figure that they set it off because they had about 1/4 cup of alcohol in them).

Laura said...

I can't help but wonder why otherwise rational people keep buying all this fearmongering. I don't know if it's apathy, ignorance or stupidity. I guess in some cases it's all three. Too much effort to dig through information and think for oneself. Not knowing where to look for the right information, or plain thinking that illegal wiretaps don't matter.

Wendy said...

Killer Bits - there are an amazing number of really f*cked up things going on here in Canada as well. Some days I wish I would quit reading the newspapers and discussing politics with friends and just be blissfully unaware. Perhaps it's just that the American problems get more 'airplay' than ours. Well, that and we don't have a Leader that is having people in Iraq killed because of those pesky Weapons of Mass, I mean because of, to bring demoncracy to their, actually it's just for their own good.

It's all so sad.

Gregg said...

Baaaa...You sound like a French sheepherder. Just wanted to point out that THE ONLY PERSON to vote agianst the current incarnation of the Patriot Act was Russ Finegold, so I guess that makes EVERY politition dumber than you and your herd. This country is having a difficult time cleaning up the previous administrations horrific foriegn policy debaucle i.e. Somalia, Rwanda, and on and on. All this and only the second president impeached. Sorry so short, gotta get back to work.

K said...

lalalalala... I'm not listening...

(remaining blissfully unaware is tough)

Shawn said...

Melissa - Who knows? It certainly requires some independent reading and the formation of beliefs that don't take 20 seconds to 'explain.'

In the last week, I've gotten emails from crazy ass Democrats urging us to 'battle on' and from crazy ass Republicans urging us to not let the Democrats 'get to the right of us on this [port security] issue.'

Fire them all would be a good start...if you ask me.

Heathen - Great airport tale of woe. I want to tell some stuff I know about security at airports, but I really am a bit hesitant. Not that I have any great insights, but I have dealt with the process for getting out on the tarmac and to the gates without the 'security' check.

My Canuck buddies - Yup...y'all just have different stuff to get pissed at your government for. But you have hockey, maple syrup and lots of, that's pretty cool.

Gregg - Better a French sheepherder than a Greek goatherder is what I always say. Sheep have much nicer figures.

This country is having a difficult time cleaning up the previous administrations horrific foriegn policy debaucle i.e. Somalia, Rwanda, and on and on.

Perhaps you could give me a lovely example of what exactly it is we're doing in the way of cleaning up. Maybe it was mentioned in the State of the Union or something and I just missed it.

I always forget that some people might really believe that a)we're any better off now than we were a few years ago, b) there's really nothing wrong with the government regulating more of our lives, and c) that a bigger government is just fine.