Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Atty Gen. Gonzales To Courts: 'Stay Out of King George's Business!'

In my post last Thursday on the passage of Bush's detainee treatment bill- 'Remember This Moment'- I included a poster which implied the actions of the administration were taking America down a fascist path. Did I mean that America had, as a whole, become a fascist country? No, of course not. Did I mean that the Bush administration and their party were embracing the historical attributes of fascism in their policies and actions? Yes indeed.

If the dismissal of habeas corpus, legalization of human rights abuses, Big Brother run amok, permanent state of war, secret prisons, undermining of the press, increased governmental religiosity, etc, are not enough to convince you, here's another piece of evidence for you...

Washington Post: Gonzales Cautions Judges on Interfering
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who is defending President Bush's anti-terrorism tactics in multiple court battles, said Friday that federal judges should not substitute their personal views for the president's judgments in wartime.

He said the Constitution makes the president commander in chief and the Supreme Court has long recognized the president's pre-eminent role in foreign affairs. "The Constitution, by contrast, provides the courts with relatively few tools to superintend military and foreign policy decisions, especially during wartime," the attorney general told a conference on the judiciary at Georgetown University Law Center...

To recap: The Attorney General of the United States (an office which is supposed to be a neutral arbitrator of the law, and not a partisan arm of the Oval Office) is stating that in a time of war (you know, the permanent, loosely-defined 'war on terror'), the Supreme Court should not attempt to check or balance any of The Decider's decisions, like they did with that nasty Hamdan decision in June, which started this whole debacle. Their 230-year-old role as the constitutional referee does not apply to King George's decrees. Harry Truman would be surprised to hear this.

This all goes back to the President's (okay, actually Dick Cheney's) belief in the 'unitary executive' theory of presidential power, which states that the power and authority of the executive great exceeds the lesser two branches. Vice President Cheney in particular internalized this theory, believing that after the resignation of his old boss, Richard Nixon, the powers of the executive were limited too much (ie. by that pesky 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which the President has decreed unto himself the power to violate). What best way to compenstate for those post-Watergate limitations? Attempt to make President Nixon look like Thomas Jefferson in comparison, apparently.

But this attitude doesn't end with the Attorney General and Executive Branch... as the near-party-line vote on the detainee bill last week (and likely votes on upcoming wiretapping legislation) showed, the President's rubberstamp allies in the Congress also support this. Their disdain for the courts is also evident. Here is what former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said just last week-
Supreme Court decisions that are "so clearly at variance with the national will" should be overridden by the other branches of government, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says.

"What I reject, out of hand, is the idea that by five to four, judges can rewrite the Constitution, but it takes two-thirds of the House, two-thirds of the Senate and three-fourths of the states to equal five judges," Gingrich said during a Georgetown University Law Center conference on the judiciary...

Other GOP leaders, like the now-resigned Tom Delay, have long made hostile remarks toward the judiciary as a whole, most notably during the Schiavo affair. This lead former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to warn in a speech this past March that these leaders and their actions "posed a direct threat to our constitutional freedoms" and warned against leaning toward dictatorship. It "takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship... but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings," her speech reminded us.

We have been seeing those beginnings for about 5 years now. The detainee bill's passage last week was a sign that accountability for this is going to continue to be non-existent under our current leadership. The media certainly does not care; any story too complicated to boiled down to soundbites is not worth reporting to them. But this is still a democracy and we need to stop just getting angry while doing nothing. We can do something- we can vote. Accountability (hopefully) begins on November 7th.

UPDATE: The first court challenge to the legislation has arrived.

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