Monthly Archives: July 2009

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Cheney-Obama: The Fourth Amendment does not Apply to the Military in the US!

There is little doubt that we are headed for totalitarian dictatorship in the United States. There is even less doubt that Barack Obama, far from being a reformer, is and always will be nothing but a tool of the same vicious, freedom-hating, individual-despising, global corporate socialist government we’ve had for at least 20-25 years now. All I know for sure is that the America into which I was born had evaporated before my son was born, in August 1992. One of the greatest monitors of this process of abolition of the Constitution is New York City-based Glenn Greenwald, who writes for left-leaning Salon.com out of San Francisco. For the past six months, he has been chronicling more systematically than any other commentator ALL of Barack Hussein Obama’s criminal moves towards dictatorship and institutionalization of the Clinton-Bush-Cheney anti-American plutocracy. The rhetorical device is easy to understand: the first “Black” President has adopted all of their (Clinton-Bush-Cheney’s) very worst policies, there will be no “mainstream” segments of the political spectrum left to fight for freedom in this country.
I applaud Glenn Greenwald for his work and dedication to the cause of preserving the Bill of Rights inside (and as representative of) the United States:
SATURDAY JULY 25, 2009 06:26 EDT
The Cheney plan to deploy the U.S. military on U.S. soil
(updated below – Update II – Update III) GLENN GREENWALD (SALON.COM):
This new report today from The New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti and David Johnston reveals an entirely unsurprising though still important event: in 2002, Dick Cheney and David Addington urged that U.S. military troops be used to arrest and detain American citizens, inside the U.S., who were suspected of involvement with Al Qaeda. That was done pursuant to a previously released DOJ memo (.pdf) authored by John Yoo and Robert Delahunty, addressed to Alberto Gonzales, dated October 23, 2001, and chillingly entitled “Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the U.S.” That Memo had concluded that the President had authority to deploy the U.S. military against American citizens on U.S. soil. Far worse, it asserted that in exercising that power, the President could not be bound either by Congressional statutes prohibiting such use (such as the Posse Comitatus Act) or even by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which — the Memo concluded — was “inapplicable” to what it called “domestic military operations.”
Though it received very little press attention, it is not hyperbole to observe that this October 23 Memo was one of the most significant events in American politics in the last several decades, because it explicitly declared the U.S. Constitution — the Bill of Rights — inoperative inside the U.S., as applied to U.S. citizens. Just read what it said in arguing that neither the Fourth Amendment — nor even the First Amendment — can constrain what the President can do when overseeing “domestic military operations”.

Today’s NYT report is the first which reveals that high-level Bush officials actively considered and even advocated that the power to use the military to arrest American citizens on U.S. soil be used. In this instance, Cheney and Addington argued that the U.S. Army should be deployed to Buffalo to arrest six American citizens — dubbed the “Lackawanna Six” — suspected of being Al Qaeda members (though not suspected of being anywhere near executing an actual Terrorist attack). The Cheney/Addington plan was opposed by DOJ officials who wanted domestic law enforcement jurisdiction for themselves, and the plan was ultimately rejected by Bush, who instead dispatched the FBI to arrest them [all six were ultimately charged in federal court with crimes (“material support for terrorism”); all pled guilty and were sentenced to long prison terms, and they then cooperated in other cases, once again illustrating how effective our normal criminal justice and federal prison systems are in incapacitating Terrorists].
All that said, the Bush administration did use a very similar power when it dispatched FBI agents to arrest U.S. citizen Jose Padilla on American soil (at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport), but then very shortly thereafter transferred him to military custody, where he was held for the next 3 years with no trial, no charges, and no contact with the outside world, including lawyers. The only thing distinguishing the Padilla case from what Cheney/Addington argued be done in the Lackawanna Six case was that the military wasn’t used to make the initial apprehension of Padilla. But Padilla was then transferred to military custody and held on U.S. soil for years in a brig, incommunicado and tortured, with no charges of any kind (another U.S. citizen, Yaser Hamdi, was treated similarly until the Supreme Court ruled he was entitled to some sort of hearing, after which he was sent to Saudi Arabia).
All of this underscores why it is so important to vigorously oppose the efforts of the Obama administration (a) to continue many of the radical Bush/Cheney Terrorism programs and even to implement new ones (preventive detention, military commissions, extreme secrecy policies, warrantless surveillance, denial of habeas corpus) and (b) to endorse the core Orwellian premise that enables all of that (i.e., the “battlefield” is anywhere and everywhere; the battle against Terrorism is a “War” like the Civil War or World War II and justifies the same powers). By itself, the extreme injustice imposed by our Government on the individuals subjected to such tyrannical powers (i.e., those held in cages for years without charges or any prospect for release) should be sufficient to compel firm opposition. But the importance of these issues goes far beyond that. Even if the original intention is to use these powers in very limited circumstances and even for allegedly noble purposes (“only” for Guantanamo detainees who were tortured, “only” for people shipped to Bagram, “only” for the Most Dangerous Terrorists), it’s extremely dangerous to implement systems and vest the President with powers that depart from, and violently betray, our core precepts of justice.
It’s the nature of governments that powers of this type, once vested, rarely remain confined to their original purpose. They inevitably and invariably expand far beyond that. Powers that are endowed to address a limited and supposedly temporary circumstance almost always endure for years if not decades. Once a political official possesses a particular power, they almost never relinquish it voluntarily (there are exceptions — Jimmy Carter in 1978 signed, and subsequent Presidents until Bush complied with, FISA, which barred Presidents from eavesdropping without a judicial warrant, but such instances are exceedingly rare). Perhaps most dangerous of all, detention and punishment schemes that are implemented in relatively normal times (such as now) will inevitably expand, and expand wildly, in the case of some heightened threat (such as another Terrorist attack). Put another way, once we depart for ostensibly limited purposes from our fundamental principles of justice — in order to indefinitely detain “just some special cases” without charges — then, by definition, we’re fundamentally altering our system of justice far beyond that.
Worse still, if — after eight years of Yoo memos and theories of presidential omnipotence and denial of habeas corpus — a Democratic President with a Democratic Congress implements his own kinder, gentler version of such programs, then they will cease to be a twisted aberration from the post-9/11 Bush era and will instead become the new bipartisan, American consensus approach to justice. We’ll have a national (rather than right-wing) endorsement of the “principle” that national security threats justify denial of the most basic rights when it comes to detention and imprisonment. When I interviewed The New York Times’ Charlie Savage in May, after he wrote another article detailing the similarities between the Bush/Cheney and Obama approaches to Terrorism, this is how he put it:
I had this interesting conversation when I was working on this article that came out this morning with Jack Balkin at Yale Law School, and he compares this moment to when Dwight Eisenhower took over, in 1953, and after FDR and then Truman had built up the New Deal administrative state, which Republicans hated, but then Eisenhower, instead of dismantling it, just sort of adjusted it with his own policies a little bit, and kept it going. And at that point, there was no longer any sort of partisan controversy about the fact that we were going to have this massive administrative state; it just sort of became a permanent part of the governing structure of the country.
And in the same way he said in 1969 when Richard Nixon took over from LBJ, he did some adjustments to the great society welfare state that LBJ had built up, but he didn’t scrap it. And at that point, Republicans and Democrats had both presided over the welfare state and the welfare state became part of just how government worked.
That in the same way, Obama now, by continuing the broad outlines of the various surveillance and detention and counter-terrorism programs, is draining them of plausible partisan controversy, and so they are going to become entrenched and consolidated as permanent features of American government as well, going forward.
Those are the stakes when it comes to debates over Obama’s detention, surveillance and secrecy policies. To endorse the idea that Terrorism justifies extreme presidential powers in these areas is to ensure that we permanently embrace a radical departure from our core principles of justice. It should come as no surprise that once John Yoo did what he was meant to do — give his legal approval to a truly limitless presidency, one literally unconstrained even by the Bill of Rights, even as applied to American citizens on U.S. soil — then Dick Cheney and David Addington sought to use those powers (in the Buffalo case) and Bush did use them (in the case of Jose Padilla). That’s how extreme powers work: once implemented, they will be used, and used far beyond their original intent — whether by the well-intentioned implementing President or a subsequent one with less benign motives. That’s why it’s so vital that such policies be opposed before they take root.

UPDATE: On a mostly (though not entirely) unrelated note, here is a prime example of Digby’s excellence: her commentary on the prevailing authoritarian mentality towards government and police power in the U.S., as reflected by the Gates controversy.

UPDATE II: As Kitt notes in Comments, Obama himself, as a candidate, repeatedly embraced these ideas. Here is what he said in February, 2008, after he convinced Chris Dodd to endorse him during the primary and while he tried to convince Dodd voters, who made civil liberties and a restoration core Constitutional values one of their highest priorities, to support him as well:
We know it’s time to time to restore our Constitution and the rule of law. This is an issue that was at the heart of Senator Dodd’s candidacy, and I share his passion for restoring the balance between the security we demand and the civil liberties that we cherish.
The American people must be able to trust that their president values principle over politics, and justice over unchecked power. I’ve been proud to stand with Senator Dodd in his fight against retroactive immunity for the telecommunications industry [GG: This was just four months before Obama would vote for a bill granting immunity to the telecoms]. Secrecy and special interests must not trump accountability [GG: This was roughly 11 months before the Obama DOJ began embracing the Bush/Cheney “state secrets” privilege to shield lawless programs from judicial review]. We must show our citizens — and set an example to the world — that laws cannot be ignored when it is inconvenient. Because in America — no one is above the law [GG: This was about a year before he announced that no Bush officials should be prosecuted for crimes because we must Look Forward].
It’s time to reject torture without equivocation. It’s time to close Guantanamo and to restore habeas corpus [GG: This was about a year before his administration began insisting that people we abduct and ship to Bagram have no right to habeas review]. It’s time to give our intelligence and law enforcement agencies the tools they need to track down and take out terrorists, while ensuring that their actions are subject to vigorous oversight that protects our freedom [GG: This was just four months before Obama would vote for a bill massively expanding warrantless eavesdropping]. So let me be perfectly clear: I have taught the Constitution, I understand the Constitution, and I will obey the Constitution when I am President of the United States.
The Barack Obama who understands those things still exists. That’s why the effort to induce him to act on — rather than violate — those principles is so imperative.

UPDATE III: As several commenters note, this revelation about Cheney sheds new light on the reason many people were concerned by prior reports that a U.S. Army brigade, for the first time, was being permanently deployed to the domestic U.S. Many of us expressing that concern were accused of indulging bizarre paranoia that the U.S. Army would ever be deployed against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. I wonder how those who made such shrill accusations feel now in light of today’s revelation that Cheney was advocating for precisely that.
On a different note, I was on The Mike Malloy Show last night, with guest host Brad Friedman, discussing Obama and civil liberties. Those interested can hear the segments I did here, beginning at the start of HOUR ONE.
— Glenn Greenwald

Jury gives woman $1.25M in lawsuit over mortgage


Hannity advances Obama birth certificate conspiracies 1 hour and 58 minutes ago From the July 15 edition of Fox News Channel’s Hannity:

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The US Army Blinked

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY

U.S. ARMY HUMAN RESOURCES COMMAND

1 RESERVE WAY

ST. LOUIS, MO 63132-5200

AHRC-PLM-S 14 JUL 2009

ORDERS A-06-916551R

COOK STEFAN FREDERICK EAD8 MAJ EN 000 00 0000

W096AA

THE FOLLOWING ORDER IS REVOKED OR RESCINDED AS SHOWN.

ACTION: REVOKE

SO MUCH OF: FORMAT 162 A-06-916551 AHRC DATED 09 JUN 2009

 

PERTAINING TO: EXTENDED ACTIVE DUTY ORDER OF

COOK STEFAN FREDERICK

000 00 0000 MAJ EN 21B

FOR ARMY USE: AUTHORITY: 10 USC 12301 (D)

ACCT CLAS: 21 9/0 2010.0000 01-1100 P1A1000 11**/12** VFRE F3203 5570 01FFGU 12161 21 9 2020.0000 B1 B1TC 135197 21T1/21T2 COO7803T916551 VFRE F4209 AZTD2E 12161 CIC: 2920B1AZTD12161 9199-STL-18JUL09

 

FORMAT: 705

************** LOUIS B. WINGATE
* AHRC * COL, FA

* OFFICIAL * COMMANDING

**************

DISTRIBUTION: 1 SOLDIER

1 SOC CENTRAL (SOCJ1) 7115 S BDRY BLVD 813-828-6378 MACDILL AFB FL 33621

1 USA ELM HQ USSOUTHCOM 3511 NW 91ST AVENUE MIAMI FL 33172

A modern American Military Hero—Major Stefan Frederick Cook

Given what he is risking to do what he sees as his Patriotic Duty, Major Stefan Cook is as courageous a hero than I for one have EVER met.  He is not a sunshine soldier or summertime Patriot, as Thomas Paine once wrote (1776) in Common Sense.  These ARE the times that try men’s souls.  People who do not understand what it means for an officer to weigh his career against the possibilities of committing men under him to illegal wars and combat under an illegitimate leader have never learned and will never understand the lessons of history from Nuremberg or of Eichman in Jerusalem.  Major Stefan Cook’s courage in facing the political onslaught he faces is much greater than the courage required to fight ignorant, poorly armed nomads and peasants in Central Asia who may or may not be associated with terrorism in the United States.  Possible War Crimes trials against U.S. Troops are being discussed all over Europe and Latin America.  The fact that the U.S. Troops have protected the poppyfields and heroin traffic in Afghanistan is by now legendary.  It is my hope and opinion that Major Stefan Cook, if he is not crushed by social and political pressure, will make a more lasting impression on U.S. military history and foreign policy than anyone else over the past 30-50 years.  An ethical army can only exist if we have conscious officers in command of our armed forces.  The existence of a standing army under the virtually exclusive and discretionary control of the increasingly powerful executive branch in the United States constitutes a threat (recognized by the Founding Fathers) to the balance of powers and our Federal Republican form of government.  To counterbalance the nearly absolute power of the president the people must demand and support an officer corps with legal awareness and consciousness as well as strategic, tactical, and technical competence.  The modern armed forces can move so quickly in this day and age that the ability to make “in the field” and “on base” legal judgments on the part of officers has become absolutely essential in this day-and-time.  I for one am proud to be a part of the legal team, with Dr. Orly Taitz, which tries to realize Major Stefan Frederick Cook’s hopes and dreams for a better world and a better America.  The rule of Constitutional Law is paramount in this country, and confidence in the Constitutional qualifications and plain honest of our leadership is indispensable.  I for one have little or no such confidence in the current administration, I will have no truck or dealings with anyone who impugns this military man’s great, unparalleled courage and dedication to principal.  It is an old joke that “army intelligence is an oxymoron.”  Intelligence is sometimes characterized by an individual’s courage to change the things he can, the serenity to accept the things he cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Major Stefan Frederick Cook is taking a valiant chance here that he can change the transparency of his government’s leadership and their responsiveness to public concerns.  Major Cook’s choice, his decision to risk all for conscience, his bravery, and acumen shown in his statement quoted on this blog below proves just high his “army intelligence” really is.

Stefan F. Cook Major, US Army / Statement Press Release

Dr. Orly Taitz has filed on my behalf a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in Columbus Georgia to prevent me from deploying to Afghanistan until such time as Barack Obama produces definitive proof that he is a natural born US citizen.  The basis for the TRO is this:  It is my duty as an officer in the US Army to seek clarification as to the legality of orders directed to me by someone in my chain of command (The President of the United States/Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States) who is not eligible to do so.  Should Barack Obama be found not to be a natural born citizen of the US and I follow such an illegal order, I could be subject to punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)  as well as should I have the misfortune of being captured by the enemy in Afghanistan, I could be subject to prosecution for war crimes as I was conducting military operations illegally.  I will not subject myself to such a possibility.  As an extension of this, each and every Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine who is deployed overseas could possibly find themselves in the same situation as I detailed above.  This is an unacceptable position. However, should Barack Obama definitively prove that he is in fact a natural born citizen of the US, and as such, eligible to be President of the US/Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the US, I shall deploy to Afghanistan as so ordered. This deployment to Afghanistan was a voluntary request on my part.  I am a patriotic citizen of the USA and Officer in the US Army and want to discharge those duties assigned to me in an honorable and legal fashion. I have thought long and hard on my decision to file this TRO.  I realize that this action may well end my career as an Army Officer.  I have discussed this decision with my family and they are understanding and supportive.  This has been a gut-wrenching decision to make.  For my entire career in the Army, it has been pounded into us that it is our duty to seek clarification on orders we deem to be questionable in their legality.  You sit through the academic exercise and have a discussion about it and move on to the next subject.  But when the situation actually arises (like my current situation), well that’s something else entirely.  You experience that “holy crap” moment and have to make a decision that may well affect your life from that point on.  I find myself in that position right now.  I have to have the moral courage to prosecute a course of action that is most distasteful, but yet needs to be done.

Onward into the breach, and faciendum est.

Stefan F. Cook
Major, US Army

The Major’s official Statement can also be found at: