Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Quaint and Obsolete

According to Reuters the administration sent chief leg breaker Alberto Gonzalez to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to rally support for renewal of the Patriot Act.
"The tools in the reauthorization of the Patriot Act are very important to the success of the Department of Justice in protecting this country," Gonzales told reporters after meeting with lawmakers.

'Berto must not have looked at the 9/11 commission's report card on the administration's efforts over the past four years at making America safer: 1 A, 12 Bs, 9 Cs, 12 Ds, 5 Fs and 2 incompletes. A C- average. It doesn't appear the Patriot Act has done us a whole lot of good.

In arguing the need for the Patriot Act's renewal, Gonzales trotted out an old administration meme: it's necessary to fight our "new kind of war" against a "new kind of enemy." Mister Bush's echo chamberlains have beating the "new war" drum ever since 9/11, claiming that our war on terror is "new" because it involves culture, religion, ideology, asymmetric threats, terror, insurgency, law enforcement, and a host of other things that have, in actuality, been inherent aspects of warfare since Sun Tzu was a buck sergeant. There's nothing about our "war on terror" that the Greek general Thucydides didn't write about in 400B.C. in his History of the Peloponnesian War--and none of it was new then either.

But one wouldn't expect the Rovewellians to let a little thing like history get in their way. They're too busy accusing their critics of rewriting it.

Richard Hooker gives us this interesting synopsis of one of Thucydides' passages:
The Melian Controversy [gave] the Athenian reasons for attacking the small island of Melos in 416, making them say bluntly that those who are powerful need have no regard for justice, human rights, or the gods.

Like I said, there's nothing new about our "new" war.

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Speaking of "Torture Guy" Gonzalez, the NYT's Eric Schmitt reports that…
The Army has approved a new, classified set of interrogation methods that may complicate negotiations over legislation proposed by Senator John McCain to bar cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees in American custody, military officials said Tuesday…

…Some military officials said the new guidelines could give the impression that the Army was pushing the limits on legal interrogation at the very moment when Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, is involved in intense three-way negotiations with the House and the Bush administration to prohibit the cruel treatment of prisoners.

Here's another example of the administration's consistent practice of fuzzy constitutionality. Article I of the U.S. Constitution specifically gives Congress the power…
To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.

The Constitution makes no provision whatsoever for the executive branch to make rules for land and naval forces, or for the land and naval forces to make their own rules and regulations.

But that surely makes no never mind to administration legal beagles like Gonzales. Gonzales, if you'll recall, is the one who advised Mister Bush that certain provisions of the Geneva Conventions were "quaint" and "obsolete."

He no doubt thinks the same of the fourth, fifth, sixth, and eighth amendments of the Constitution, which would explain why he's so gung-ho on renewing the Patriot Act.

7 comments:

  1. Jeff, have you seen the Doug Thomas Capitol Hill Blue piece on Bush's telling GOP leaders (re the Constitution) "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!"

    Sorry if you've already commented on this; I haven't been around as much as I'd like.

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  2. So Blue Gal (where I got the story) posted it on Kos, and immediately got 8 or 9 comments that Capitol Hill Blue isn't reliable -- so, consider the above as an unproven allegation as yet ;0)

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  3. Apparently the European Union does not think it "quaint" and "obsolete" as they have launched an investigation into the CIA/Bushley's Believe It Or Not Houses of Torture. BBC last eve reported that any country (that means you, Poland and Bulgaria) hosting these fun houses would lose their voting rights in the EU. BBC also posts this gem:

    "We as a state department have got problems with the human rights records of some countries... but this does not mean per se that you may not transfer a person to those countries"
    John Bellinger
    US state dept legal adviser
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4517134.stm

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  4. the patriot act is so very, very scary...

    And the fact that they arent even following the constitution anymore, in fact blatenly ignoring the parts they dont like ... and nothing is happening to them...arghhh

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  5. Even more scary to me, Kristie, is that the Congress gave Bush habeas corpus powers in the AUMF and the courts have let it stand--several times.

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  6. Richard Hooker gives us this interesting synopsis of one of Thucydides' passages:
    The Melian Controversy [gave] the Athenian reasons for attacking the small island of Melos in 416, making them say bluntly that those who are powerful need have no regard for justice, human rights, or the gods.


    I read Thucydides in 9th grade, and then updated my knowledge with Donald Kagan. The end of the war, of course, caused the end of the Athenian Empire, and the end of Athenian democracy. Let us hope the same future does not lie in store for our democracy. I won't mourn the loss of our empire, in that it may help saving our democracy.

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  7. Peter,

    Thanks for stopping by and posting. That must have been some school you went to, they had you read T-man in 9th grade. I didn't read him until I was in about 19th grade at the Naval War College).

    I too fear that our leaders have missed the big lesson of the Peloponnesian (sp?) Wars. I pray that our Iraq doesn't turn out to have been the Athenians' Sicily.

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