Mike Whitney: 'Intelligence reform or Patriot Act 2?'
Monday, December 13 @ 10:09:13 EST
By Mike Whitney
"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in an American flag"
-- Huey Long, Senator (D-LA)
"The new provision enshrines the principle of arbitrary imprisonment; allowing the president to incarcerate anyone he chooses (indefinitely) without charges."
The new Intelligence reform bill reads like a "how-to" manual for constructing fascism in the "homeland". This is no joke. At 600 plus pages none of the senators or congressman even had time to read it, but like the Patriot Act, they've rammed it through to satisfy their paymasters. By next week, the Crawford Caligula will have signed it into law and we'll be stuck with the aftereffects for years.
Predictably, the media has diverted public attention from the content of the bill, focusing instead on the cabinet-level position of NID (National Intelligence Director) The new post integrates many of the individual (intelligence) agencies under one senior manager, but does little to improve national security.
(MY COMMENT: The media has given more attention to the Scott Peterson case, the birth of twins to Julia Roberts, and how the White House is decorated for Christmas...go figure.
In fact, it just adds another layer of bureaucracy to an already confusing system. Americans are in greater danger now than ever because of the stubborn refusal to make changes in foreign policy. As a recent classified Pentagon report stated, "They don't hate our freedom, they hate our policies" and those policies have only gotten worse since the occupation of Iraq. The appointment of an Intelligence czar does nothing to relieve that situation.
Intelligence reform has been a stealth-project from the get-go. It was intended to shift the blame for 9-11 and the Iraq war (WMD) to the Intel organizations (primarily the CIA). It's complete nonsense. Everyone knows the problems stemmed from the falsifying of information by the Bush team, so there was no reason to go through all the hoopla of "fixing" the system.
Instead of addressing the underlying issues, the new bill eviscerates what's left of the Bill of Rights and hands over more power to Bush. Now, Bush is free to hand-pick the men he wants for top-level Intelligence positions without Senate confirmation; an invitation to create his personal security apparatus without congressional interference. The bill also decreases Congress' powers of oversight. The new Intelligence Director can exempt his office from "audits and investigations, and Congress will not receive reports from an objective internal auditor." In other words, Congress has limited its own access to critical information of how taxpayer dollars are being spent. They've simply given up their role of checking for presidential abuse.
The bill "eliminates provisions to ensure that it (Congress) receives timely access to intelligence, and it also allows the White House's Office of Management and Budget to screen testimony before the Intelligence Director presents it to the Congress." So, now Bush can either stonewall Congress entirely or just cherry-pick the tidbits he doesn't mind handing over. The Congress is just paving the way for even greater secrecy.
Needless to say, all the whistle-blower protections have been removed from the new bill. In this new paradigm of Mafia-style governance the only unpardonable offense is reporting the crimes of one's bosses. Now, the Bush Fedayeen can purge the entire intelligence apparatus and no one will be the wiser.
Also, the Intelligence budget (around$20 billion) will be shielded from Congressional scrutiny. Can you believe it? The Congress is cutting a blank check for $20 billion to Bush and they don't want to know what he's doing with the money?!? There's no doubt that copious amounts of cash will be dumped into illicit activity, like dirty tricks, covert operations, torture facilities and death squads.
And here's a good one: "The Intelligence Director shall have authority to direct or undertake electronic surveillance and physical search operations pursuant to FISA if authorized by statute or executive order."
Executive order? Oh, good. You won't need to bother with cumbersome courts and laws to overturn the 4th amendment anymore; just a nod from George Bush and away-you-go. Did even one senator consider that the 4th amendment was designed to protect against the intrusions of a monarch? Now, they've surrendered that power to Bush?
Another provision asserts that terrorist suspects may be immediately considered flight risks, so prosecutors don't have to prove it to a judge. Just the label of "terrorist" is enough to eliminate the "presumption of innocence". If the Bush Stasi throws you in the slammer, you must be guilty. Otherwise, why would they waste their time?
The administration has been working on this angle for some time. Whether rounding up 1200 suspects after 9-11 and dispatching them in secret hearings, or rolling up enemy combatants and dumping them in solitary confinement; the Bushies never liked the idea that someone had to break the law to be arrested. This new provision enshrines the principle of arbitrary imprisonment; allowing the president to incarcerate anyone he chooses (indefinitely) without charges.
This cuts the heart-and soul out of the Bill of Rights. It overturns the 5th and 6th amendments and eviscerates due process protections in one-fell-swoop. What's to keep the president from tossing political enemies, protestors or union activists in jail? If he hangs the terror moniker on them he's not required to make any explanation or produce any evidence. Why bother with rights or attorneys? This bill gives Bush's "gut-feelings" the force of the law.
It's hauntingly clear when Bush said he didn't mind dictatorship "as long as I'm the dictator", he was being remarkably clairvoyant.
Is it possible that the average citizen still can't see what's going on? Beyond the media fog, the Intelligence Reform bill is the worst abridgement of civil rights since the Patriot Act. It further enhances the power of the president while cutting the ground out from under the Constitution.
These fascist schemes aren't being cooked up in the Oval Office. It's doubtful that Bush will ever even read this miserable bill, but he knows its content, and he knows it is endorsed by his most powerful constituents. They've produced a coherent ideology that disguises their real intentions and now, they're putting their plan into action. With the support of key players in the House and Senate (and media) they're remaking the American political system. There's nothing accidental about these dramatic, Constitution-shredding provisions. They simply reflect the values of a "privileged few" who do not accept the legitimacy of democratic government. This new bill shows their determination to establish autocratic rule in America.
So far, I'd say they're doing a pretty decent job.
COMMENT: IF YOU'RE READING THIS, PLEASE LET YOUR REPS KNOW THAT IT IS INTOLERABLE THAT THINGS LIKE THIS ARE BEING ALLOWED TO PASS WITH CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL. TELL THEM IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS HOW YOU FEEL.