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17 June 2006


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News, Views, & Analysis Governments, Lobbies, & the
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IMPERIAL AMERICA
As American Democracy Slips Away

MER - MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 17 June: The warnings that American Democracy itself is endangered have been coming from the heart of the political and intellectual establishment for some years now; but the public just doesn't get it and the corporate military-industrial media just won't focus on it. Walter Cronkite has tried to speak up, but he has been side-lined and muzzled. Bill Moyers has tried to speak up, but he has been exiled from PBS. Just yesterday, by 5 to 4 with the two Bush appointees voting with the government, one of the main 'exclusion laws' enshrined in British Common Law since the 14th century as well as long-held Supreme Court precedents was overturned. Now police can invade private homes without knocking and announcing - something Americans have always expected and indeed demanded. This article about the new 'Usurping King Called George' is published today in The Guardian in London, just as 'The Israel Lobby' article couldn't be published in the US but had to be published instead in The London Review of Books.


America's problem is again a usurping king called George

Bush's determination to impose his own reading of new
laws amounts to a power grab and subverts the US constitution


Martin Kettle
Saturday June 17, 2006 - The Guardian UK

Imagine a country with a different kind of monarch from the one we are used to. Forget the nation-binding human monarch whom Archbishop Rowan Williams praised so deftly this week. Imagine instead a monarch who, like many of Elizabeth II's ancestors, routinely reserved the right to override laws passed by the legislature, or who repeatedly asserted that the laws mean something they do not say. Imagine, in fact, King George of America.

On April 30 the Boston Globe journalist Charlie Savage wrote an article whose contents become more astonishing the more one reads them. Over the past five years, Savage reported, President George Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws that have been enacted by the United States Congress since he took office. At the heart of Bush's strategy is the claim that the president has the power to set aside any statute that conflicts with his own interpretation of the constitution.

Remarkably, this systematic reach for power has occurred not in secret but in public. Go to the White House website and the evidence is there in black and white. It takes the form of dozens of documents in which Bush asserts that his power as the nation's commander in chief entitles him to overrule or ignore bills sent to him by Congress for his signature. Behind this claim is a doctrine of the "unitary executive", which argues that the president's oath of office endows him with an independent authority to decide what a law means.

Periodically, congressional leaders come down from Capitol Hill to applaud as the president, seated at his desk, signs a bill that becomes the law of the land. They are corny occasions. But they are a photo-op reminder that American law-making involves compromises that reflect a balance between the legislature and the presidency. The signing ceremony symbolises that the balance has been upheld and renewed.

After the legislators leave, however, Bush puts his signature to another document. Known as a signing statement, this document is a presidential pronouncement setting out the terms in which he intends to interpret the new law. These signing statements often conflict with the new statutes. In some cases they even contradict their clear meaning. Increasing numbers of scholars and critics now believe they amount to a systematic power grab within a system that rests on checks and balances of which generations of Americans have been rightly proud - and of which others are justly envious.

The Bush administration has often been charged with unilateralism in its conduct of foreign affairs. But a similar disregard for the rule of law underlies this domestic strategy. Article 1, section 1 of the US constitution states: "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States." Section 7 says that if the president refuses to sign a law, the Congress can override him. But Bush has never vetoed a bill. Instead he signs bills into law and then unilaterally redefines them his way.

The contrast between the rhetoric of the public ceremony and the self-authorisation in the later signing statements is large. Take, for example, the renewal of the USA Patriot Act on March 9. In the signing ceremony Bush stressed that the law had been a bipartisan effort involving Congress and the White House. In the subsequent signing statement, however, he states that he does not feel bound to report to Congress (as the act requires) and would "withhold information the disclosure of which could impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative processes of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties".

Or take the contrast after Bush signed an overwhelmingly supported congressional bill last year outlawing the torture of detainees. On the face of it the new law was explicit, strengthening what Bush described as "values we hold dear" and extending a domestic ban on torture to cover US actions around the world. But the signing statement on December 30 carefully undermined that claim. It asserted that "the executive branch shall construe [the law] in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the president ... as commander in chief," adding that this approach would "assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the president ... of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks". In other words, circumstances might arise in which torture might still be authorised.

The Bush White House did not invent the presidential signing statement; it goes back to the 19th century. But the frequency and ambition of Bush's signing statements go far beyond his predecessors. Whereas earlier presidents issued signing statements of a highly specific nature, those of Bush are repeatedly broad and unspecific. Above all, they make claims to enhanced executive power that impinge on profound issues of liberty such as torture or wiretapping.

Too late in the day for comfort, Bush's approach is coming under greater scrutiny. In February the bipartisan Constitution Project warned of "the risk of permanent and unchecked presidential power". Last week the American Bar Association announced an independent inquiry into the practice. A powerful article in the New York Review of Books by the veteran writer Elizabeth Drew has also given the subject higher saliency.

To their credit, even some Bush supporters are alarmed. If Bill Clinton had done what Bush is doing, the Republican senator Chuck Hagel has pointed out, Congress would be up in arms. If Bush were to bequeath the powers he claims to Hillary Clinton, the right would soon go berserk with indignation at the threat to American values. Which is why the most pertinent comment so far on the president's strategy has come from the anti-tax conservative Grover Norquist. He told Drew: "If you interpret the constitution's saying that the president is commander in chief to mean that the president can do anything he wants and can ignore the laws, you don't have a constitution: you have a king."

<>It is not anti-American to warn about what Bush is doing. On the contrary, it is profoundly pro-American. In 1776 Americans issued their declaration of independence. They demanded a new form of government in place of the "repeated injuries and usurpations" to which they had been subjected. In the long list of grievances that followed, the first was that King George had "refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good". That suddenly has a contemporary ring. Now, as then, America's problem is a usurping king called George. martin.kettle@guardian.co.uk




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June 2006


Magazine






ISRAELIS GO BERSERK AS WORLD WATCHES
(June 30, 2006)
Dreaming or Waking? Reality or Nightmare? The Israelis have lost all perspective and all credibility. Over many years they have created the situation that is today exploding. Over many years they have provoked the response they are now getting. When will the world community step in and right the wrongs the UN itself, and so many of the western nations, most especially the US and the UK, are so complicitous in creating?

NEOCONS Attack - Prince of Darkness in the Washington Post
(June 26, 2006)
The "Neocons", that cabal of individuals and groups that planned and plotted the 'New World Order', many of whom are hard-line Zionist and Jewish, is at it big time. Behind the scenes as well as out front the "Neocons" are pushing and manuevering more than ever, even though they are more exposed and some say more on the defensive than in earlier years. Over the weekend none other than the Prince of Darkness himself, Richard Perle, made an unusually direct assault on the Bush Administration, however seemingly obliquely by targeting Condi more directly than George. Furthermore, more and more, it is the editorial page of The Washington Post, feeling the heat from such publications as the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times, that makes itself available to the "Neocons".

Bush Affair With Condi? Can It Be?
(June 20, 2006)
Who knows what to believe anymore about what's going on at the heart of the American Empire in this imperial capital. This is not our usual thing, that's for sure. But the 'mainstream media' has so discredited itself in recent years by missing, ommitting, and wrongly spinning so many critical stories that the Washington rumors about this one can't just be dismissed and poohooyed totally. I

US BUILDING STEALTH PERMANENT BASES IN IRAQ
(June 19, 2006)
When pressed in public American officials say they are not building 'permanent bases' in Iraq. But then just what is the definition of 'permanent bases' and just where are all those billions going and what are all those contractors doing in Iraq? Americans officials have certainly earned considerable skepticism and disbelief about what they say -- to say the least! Nearly half of the American public do not even believe the official 9/11 story and when asked by pollsters says another investigation not run by government is needed.

Israel and US Prepare Palestinians For Civil War
(June 18, 2006)
In recent weeks clandestine arms shipments have gone from the Jordanians via Israel to the forces of Mahmoud Abbas, long connected with the Americans and the CIA. Now rather buried and camaflouged in this Haaretz article published today is limited information how the Fateh forces are being built-up, armed and financed, by a coalition that includes the Israelis, the Americans, the Arab 'client regimes', and the more skeptical but nevertheless on board Europeans. Unless the Palestinians could be forced into a rump and unreal Palestinian State more imprisoning them than freeing them, the alternative Israeli policy has been for some time to foment a fratricidal Palestinian civil war. They are now closer to this goal than ever.

Imperial America - Democracy Slipping Away
(June 17, 2006)
The warnings that American Democracy itself is endangered have been coming from the heart of the political and intellectual establishment for some years now; but the public just doesn't get it and the corporate military-industrial media just won't focus on it. Walter Cronkite has tried to speak up, but he has been side-lined and muzzled. Bill Moyers has tried to speak up, but he has been exiled from PBS. Just yesterday, by 5 to 4 with the two Bush appointees voting with the government, one of the main 'exclusion laws' enshrined in British Common Law since the 14th century as well as long-held Supreme Court precedents was overturned. Now police can invade private homes without knocking and announcing - something Americans have always expected and indeed demanded. This article about the new 'Usurping King Called George' is published today in The Guardian in London, just as 'The Israel Lobby' article couldn't be published in the US but had to be published instead in The London Review of Books.

WHAT HAPPENED THEN WAS PRECURSOR TO NOW
(June 4, 2006)
Eight years ago the political manueverings with the CIA, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and of course Israeli, the Mossad, and Washington, were considerable. What was done then is precursor to what has happened since and what is being planned now. Now the CIA and Mossad are more involved with the Fateh movement headed by Mahmoud Abbas than ever before, arming them in fact for the civil war the Israelis have long considered a good alternative if the Palestinians couldn't be forced to sign away their rights and live as Indians on Reservations 'peacefully'. This MER Flashback to June 1998:

IRAQ: SHOCK AND AWE INDEED
(June 4, 2006)
Even the U.S.-approved and backed new Prime Minister of occupied Iraq has lashed out at the Americans declaring that what happened at Haditha was not an aberation but "common" -- yes indeed that's the actual word he used a few days ago. Hardly the kind of thing Americans will hear on their Sunday talk-shows, nor can they read Robert Fisk's pithy analysis and truth-telling in their newspapers.

Stealing America to Force the 'New World Order'
(June 3, 2006)
Using various deceitful and hidden techniques and methods they stole both elections in 2000 and 2004. They repeatedly big lied about the Iraq War, and so much else, maybe it now seems even 9/11 itself. They've brought both Iraq and Palestine to the verge of impoverishment and historic civil war. And now the plans of the corporate titans in league with the Zionist Neocons and the hard-right Evangelicals are to further enforce their unstable 'New World Order' come what may, truth be damned, even with both devastating climate change and the growing risk of World War III in the balance. The "mega-crisis" we've warned of all week may soon become the lasting legacy of so much historic political theft and debachery. It's a kind of criminal political bankruptcy far worse than the massive economic bankruptcy of Enron and Bush's dear friend 'Kenny Boy'.

American Chicanery in the Middle East - now 'mega-crisis' looming
(June 2, 2006)
What the U.S. has done in the past in the Middle East, nearly always in tandem with the Israelis of course for quite some time, is considerably responsible for the current explosive situation in the region. What the U.S., Israel, and the UK are doing now may well in the end result in the "mega-crisis" predicted in the important recent article by David Hirst which MER featured earlier this week.

MEGA-CRISIS LOOMS Warns Senior Journalist David Hirst
(June 1, 2006)
Iraq, Palestine, Iran - the plans for 'regime change' by the pro-Israeli US neocons is threatening a mega-crisis in the region that will be felt around the world




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