Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Other Items

The New York Times is just full of the boo-hoos today. KeShawn notes Leslie Wayne's "Contractors Are Warned: Cuts Coming for Weapons:"

Mr. [Ryan] Henry, a top Pentagon planning official, was giving an early glimpse of the Defense Department's priorities over the next four years to an industry gathering in New York of executives of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics and other leading military contractors.
For his listeners, there was one question hanging in the air: What will the impact be on me - and on my company?
Some of the answers were already clear, even if there were few details. Mr. Henry, whose official title is principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy, said the Pentagon's spending binge of the last several years - its budget has increased 41 percent since 9/11 - cannot be sustained. "We can't do everything we want to do."

The bloated spending on weapons might be cut (might) and the defense industry is in a tizzy. What was the reaction to the Times readers, forget Henry's listeners, this morning? Bully Boy didn't create the bloated defense spending, the bulk of any year's budget. We didn't drop spending on weapons and weapons systems after WWII, we dropped spending on the public, on schools, on a variety of things, but no matter how "tight" the belts had to get, there was always money for weapons.

What did we get for that? We didn't get universal health care -- other developed nations did. We didn't get better schools, we didn't get better anything. Maybe we got a "sense of security"?
If so, it was proven to be a false sense of security on September 11, 2001 when all the money that had been poured into various weapons programs (and spying programs) didn't prevent us from an attack.

If there's some trimming done (if) in the budget, we'll still continue to outspend other nations on weapons and weapon systems.

From Wayne's article:

But one big question, analysts say, is whether the Pentagon and Congress have the desire, and will, to kill weapons programs where hundreds of billions of dollars -- as well as the careers of powerful generals and admirals -- are invested.

The Times has some other pieces this morning, if they're worthy of attention, Democracy Now! will note them. So instead, we'll focus on what the paper doesn't want to hit hard on apparently, the NSA spying ordered by the Bully Boy. (Or maybe they just can't cover the topic in anymore detail because they've played "fair use" as much as they can with James Risen's upcoming book?)

Micah e-mails to note Marty Luster's "On Bush: It's Time to Say 'Enough'" (Ithaca Journal via Common Dreams):

The president has defended his action in signing repeated executive orders directing the spying upon U.S. citizens by his National Security Agency on the ground that such activities are only used in cases were the subject has a "known link" to terrorist organizations abroad. However, he is silent when it comes to identifying the process for determining if a subject of eavesdropping is part of such link and he is infuriatingly vague when challenged on the legal and constitutional authority for those actions. He has assured us that his actions are both legal and protective of our civil liberties, but somehow many Americans, of all political parties, take little comfort in those assurances.
That discomfort is not only warranted by this president's history of deception, distortion and manipulation, it is compounded by the outright obfuscation of his fast-talking secretary of state. When asked on "Meet the Press" on Dec. 18 for the legal basis for the president's actions, Ms. Rice offered, in her usual glib and slick manner, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Based upon that response, one might expect to find in that legislation some clear directive that permits the president to spy upon U.S. citizens in the United States. Surely Attorney General Gonzales, and before him, Attorney General Ashcroft, as well as ace presidential counsel, former Supreme Court nominee Harriet Myers, studied FISA, or at least looked at it, before advising the president that he was free to look at our e-mails and listen to our telephone conversations without the inconvenience of applying for a court order permitting such intrusions. Sadly, it appears that that was not the case.

[. . .]
This president has, at worst, ordered the circumvention of our constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures and its insistence that no warrants be issued except upon probable cause, and at best, directed, by executive order, the clear violation of the minimal protections of FISA in intelligence gathering cases. In doing so he has violated his oath of office by failing to "preserve, protect and defend" our Constitution and has violated the law of this land by ignoring the strictures and limits of FISA.

Iwanna e-mails to note Lawrence R. Velvel's "The Usurpers of Our Freedoms" (CounterPunch):

Bush and company have very wrongly used the commander-in-chief power as a lever to make the President far, far too powerful, powerful far beyond anything intended by the framers, who created a government in which the legislature was to be the more powerful branch.
John Yoo has despicably abetted this process by writing intellectually corrupt legal opinions, which were to be used to shield officials high and low against the possibility of criminal prosecutions even though their acts plainly are criminal. The legal opinions, moreover, were classified, were all kept secret, in major part because Congress and the public would never stand for what is being done if they were to learn about it by reading the opinions
Congress has been ineffective and cowardly.
Bush has committed the impeachable felony of conspiracy to commit torture, but the media and the politicians refuse to discuss this. He should, however, be impeached for this felony.
The New York Times has apparently withheld information about various important subjects, and one wonders what those subjects might be.
[. . .]
Bush's claims of power all come down to a single overarching principle, articulated for him in legal terms by John Yoo, and articulated in political speech by Bush himself. That overarching principle is that the President is all powerful whenever he asserts a claim that what he authorizes or does is for the purpose of fighting a war.
John Yoo said that such all-surpassing power comes from the commander-in-chief clause and cannot be limited by Congress. Of course, Yoo shamelessly distorts the commander-in-chief power, which was intended simply to put a civilian in charge of the military lest a general seek to take over the country and become dictator, and was not intended to make the President a dictator, was not intended to give him the dictatorial power that the framers were guarding against in a general.

Let's again note yesterday's KPFA Evening News on which Christopher Pyle stated the following:

So what we have here is the rather extraordinary situation of a president who has admitted to committing a felony. Now he says that Congress excused him by passing the resolution against al Qaeda but that says nothing about electronic surveillance. And then he says that the Constitution excuses him because the Constitution places him above the law. There's actually a secret memo produced by the Justice Department to justify torture that says that a war time president can ignore the criminal law of the United States. There's no basis for this in law, there's no basis for this in the history of Constitutional law and Constitutional interpretation and that's of course why the memo was kept secret because if it had ever seen the light of day it would have been laughed out of court. Well now it's seen the light of day and assertions based on that theory have seen the light of day and we're not laughing because we realize the government is really out of control.

Don't forget to watch, listen or read Democracy Now! today.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.