Corporate Takeover January 21, 2010. The day the Supreme Court handed over the United States of America to corporations. In a true application of judicial activism, the Supreme Court overturned 2 previous decisions in order to declare that corporations, unions, and other organizations are, in fact, people and, as such, are entitled to all the Constitutional rights granted to people. The decision will give control of our electoral system to the monied corporations, and those with the most money will win.
Domestic Surveillance In 2003 Congress terminated Total Information Awareness, a data mining program conceived and implemented by Iran-Contra figure John Poindexter. The program, however, survives in various forms and continues to be used. Also, the “wall” between federal surveillance and law enforcement is being torn down. Domestic surveillance is alive and well in the U.S., giving rise to concerns of constitutional violations.
Executive Privilege Executive privilege is probably going to be raised by the White House in regard to the investigation of the firing of the U.S. attorneys. Executive privilege is the power claimed by the President of the United States and other members of the executive branch to resist certain search warrants and other tools seen as encroachments. There have been six (6) major court decisions regarding Executive Privilege. A recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report sheds some light on the issues. However, if the White House claims executive privilege there may be another constitutional showdown which will be decided by a court.
National Security Presidential Directive 51 On May 9, 2007, the White House issued National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 51, which establishes a national policy for the continuation of the Federal Government in case of an emergency. While this kind of directive is not new, portions of NSPD 51 are quite different from anything that has ever been done. When viewed in light on the new Martial Law and contracting out support for customs enforcement, The Issue Wonk finds ample reason to be very concerned.
Political Prosecutions The firing of federal attorneys led to the discovery that these attorneys were fired because they wouldn’t “play ball.” But what was the game? It was to get rid of Democrats and punish Republicans who were at odds with the Bush administration. This means they used the Justice Department to advance their political aims. While there is much information available about the cases, little has been covered in the mass media.
Signing Statements When a president is presented a law passed by Congress with which he has disagreement, rather than veto the law and send it back to Congress where the veto might be overridden, he may sign the bill into law and then issue a statement. Known as Signing Statements, they can be used for two (2) purposes: either to “protect presidential prerogatives” and/or to give “instructions to executive branch agencies” on the president’s interpretation of all or portions of the bill. Prior to the Reagan administration, the use of the signing statement in a serious way was sporadic at best. In Bush’s first term alone, he issued 435 statements, mostly objecting to encroachments upon presidential prerogatives. While there are some arguments for using Signing Statements, they can be viewed as unconstitutional as the President is dictating, on his own, what is and what is not law.
The Betrayal of America The firestorm in Congress recently over the treatment of “enemy combatants” and the use of warrantless surveillance, threaten Americans and American values. The Hamdan case may have left the Bush administration open to prosecution for war crimes and may be the reason for the push to change the laws – retroactive to 1997. Another court decision stating that the Bush administration had committed felonies with its warrantless surveillance program may be the reason for requests to change the FISA law. The measures being agreed to by Congress are an abomination, threaten our Constitution, and cannot be allowed.
The Constitution-Free Zone Do you live in a Constitution-Free Zone? About 66% of U.S. residents do. But the problems aren’t just for those living there. They extend to those traveling. Having never left the U.S., you can be stopped, interrogated, and coerced into an illegal search. Data gleaned from such stops are entered into federal databases with the information kept for at least 15 years. And the information isn’t just used for national security. It’s being used for typical criminal investigations.
The Police State Is there evidence that the U.S. is becoming a police state? Police states are introduced in steps that are labeled as necessary for safety. Surveillance, private police, and torture are the tools of a police state. But they can't set up a police state as long as we still have our right of habeas corpus. And we've lost that.
The Right of Privacy There is no expressed right of privacy stated in the U.S. Constitution. However, it’s been widely accepted as being a guaranteed right that’s inferred. Over the years the right of privacy has been expanded as it has been written into law.
Unitary Executive Theory Almost since the inception of the U.S. Constitution, there has been debate over what it means. Much remains in controversy. There are 2 very different views of executive power: the “strong president” and the “weak president.” The Unitary Executive Theory is a “strong president” view. Current controversies regarding the War on Terrorism, Signing Statements, the selective non-application of the Geneva Conventions, eavesdropping in the U.S. without warrants, martial law, and suspension of the Posse Comitatus Act are grounded in this Theory.
Violent Radicalization Act H.R. 1955, the Violent Radicalization & Homegrown Terrorism Protection Act of 2007, has passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 404-22. It addresses the problem of “homegrown” or “domestic” terrorism, particularly that inspired by ideology. The bill has missed the attention of the mainstream media, but the blogosphere is burning up.
What We've Lost The Military Commissions Act of 2006 recently passed by Congress, the so-called antiterrorism bill, strips rights guaranteed by the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution – the Bill of Rights. The primary problems with the bill are the definition of “enemy combatant,” the rescission of the right of habeas corpus, the rules of evidence, the limitation of judicial review, and the authorization of torture. This bill, along with other recent events, means that many of our Constitutional rights either no longer exist or are in jeopardy.