Thursday, January 18, 2007

Politi-flicks: A.G.

How ironic is it that U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, the highest law enforcement officer of our great nation, has the same initials as the prestigious office he holds, when no Attorney General since President Richard Nixon's appointee, John Mitchell, has done so much to subvert our Constitution?

Things didn't end well for Mitchell, the first A.G. ever to be convicted and imprisoned for illegal activities. While Gonzalez may never be convicted, based on his Senate Judiciary Committee testimony today, some want him impeached:
Specter: Now wait a minute, wait a minute. The Constitution says you can't take it away except in the case of invasion or rebellion. Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus?

Gonzales: I meant by that comment that the Constitution doesn't say that every individual in the United States or every citizen has or is assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say that. It simply says that the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended.

Article I, Section 9:

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

Based on a medieval Latin derivation, habeas corpus literally means, "(You should) have/produce the body to be subjected to (examination)." No indefinite incarceration without cause or by opinion or by executive fiat. It's only been suspended in the Civil War (i.e. "Rebellion") and by El Presidente after we were attacked on 9/1/2001 -- not invaded in any number, at all.

Besides purging open-minded judges already issuing subpoenas to GOP Party members and replacing them with, for instance, a close associate of Karl Rove, and treating habeas corpus like some smug little lawyer's game, Gonzalaz was excoriated by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) over his approving torture as a new U.S. military policy. It seems Gonzalez and the rest of the Bush crew sent an innocent man who just happened to have dual citizenship (Canada and Syria) against his will to Syria, where it was certain he'd be tortured. Leahy had a post-hearing press release up on his site before the day's end:
In the 32 years since I first came to the Senate – during the era of Watergate and Vietnam – I have never seen a time when our Constitution and fundamental rights as Americans were more threatened by their own government. Just this last weekend, the President and Vice President indicated that they intended to override the will of the American people, as expressed in the most recent national elections, and ignore actions of Congress in order to escalate the war in Iraq. This Administration has circumvented express congressional prohibitions on creating databanks of information on law-abiding Americans over the last five years.

And maybe worst of all is the three-card monte trick the Administration is trying to play by claiming they will now follow the FISA rules they so gleefully flouted per the blow-up a year ago. According to Glenn Greenwald what's really going on is:
What seems to have happened is that they convinced one single FISA judge whom they like to sign a broad, sweeping Order allowing them to do everything they were doing before but declaring it all to be in compliance with FISA. That is why the Committee Democrats are so eager to get the Order. But, as Schumer pointed out, they could just start eavesdropping without FISA warrants again any time they want because they continue to insist that they have that power. And if they did, we would never know...

It seems like an endless criminal operation whose very purpose is to avoid any oversight, even the merest amount.

So the real war is starting, between the Congressional and Executive branches of government.

Who's going to be our Elliot Ness?

As always, Politi-flicks is cross-posted to The Daily Reel.

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