Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Unchecked Power

...The result is that the president's wartime powers, with its armies, battles, victories, and congressional declarations, now extend to the rhetorical "War on Terror": a war with no fronts, no boundaries, no opposing army, and -- most ominously -- no knowable "victory." Investigations, arrests and trials are not tools of war. But according to the Yoo memo, the president can define war however he chooses, and remain "at war" for as long as he chooses...

...Unchecked presidential power has nothing to do with how much you either love or hate George W. Bush. You have to imagine this power in the hands of the person you most don't want to see as president, whether it be Dick Cheney or Hillary Rodham Clinton, Michael Moore or Ann Coulter.


From Bruce Schneier's blog, discussing the security implications of the recent spying issue.

Bruce brings up a vital point. This is much less about Bush having this power, it's about any president, any leader, having this power. If we let something as funadmental as the Fourth Amendment get chipped away at, what else will start to happen? Things like THIS OHIO LAW, which "would let police arrest people in public places who will not give their names, address and birth dates, even if they are not doing anything wrong."

Can I see your papers Citizen? Really, if you've done nothing illegal, there's nothing to fear, it's all for your own good, you see, and National Security.

I believe Rev. Martin Niemöller's WWII verse is appropriate:
Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Kommunist.

Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.

Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten,
habe ich nicht protestiert;
ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.

Als sie die Juden holten,
habe ich nicht protestiert;
ich war ja kein Jude.

Als sie mich holten,
gab es keinen mehr, der protestierte.
~~~~~
When they came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

3 comments:

rgmb said...

We're living in interesting (troubling) times Eleri. Your antennae are raised as are those of many others and mine. Let's hope that the cozy lull of complacency doesn't last too long in others.

Anonymous said...

Yes Eleri, I think there is much here to be concerned with. But, I think the concern needs to extend well beyond that of a president, any president, having and wielding this kind of power.

I think there should be an equal amount of concern regarding where the oversight was from our elected representatives in Congress and the lapse of that oversight. Congressional oversight is supposed to be part of the checks and balances of power, as I understand them. We shall see if now these imbalances in power, lapse of oversight, will be addressed and corrected. I think they can and will be if the blind party loyalties that helped to create them are addressed, as apposed to common determinations of both parties to act on behalf of and for the well-being of the people.

Bill Woody

Eleri Hamilton said...

Agreed, Bill. Congress bears a large share of the responsibility. They needed to be asking more questions, being more sure of the facts, and not caught up in a furor of supposed patriotism.

I suspect we'd be much further in the 'war' on terror, and many fewer lives would have been lost in Iraq, if we'd taken the time to plan, and moved with caution. You can still be decisive, without being rash and premature.

I'd love to see a complete removal of the political party system, and take each candidate on their own merits, flaws and beliefs, instead of trying to pigeonhole everything into two categories.