A Republic If You Can Keep It

220px-BenFranklinDuplessisPresident_Barack_ObamaBelow is my column in Al Jazeera on the expansion of presidential powers in the United States. While there is growing recognition of the threat posed by the current powers exercised by the White House, it is important to keep the issue before the public if we are going to realign the tripartite system back to its original balance between the balances.

In the summer of 1787, a crowd gathered around Independence Hall to learn what type of government their representatives had formed for the new nation. When Benjamin Franklin walked out of the Constitutional Convention, Mrs Powel could wait no longer. Franklin was one of the best known of the “Framers” working on the new US Constitution. Powel ran up to Franklin and asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin turned to her and said what are perhaps the most chilling words uttered by any Framer. He said, “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”

Franklin’s words were more than a boast. They were a warning. The curious thing about a democratic system is that it contains the seeds of its own demise. Freedom is not something guaranteed by any parchment or promise. It is earned by each generation which must jealously protect it from threats, not only from outside, but from within a nation.

Some 226 years after those fateful words were uttered, the true import of Franklin’s warning has become all too real for Americans. The last 10 years has seen the rise of a security state of unprecedented size and the diminishment of privacy and core protections for citizens. Recently, a federal judge ruled that the massive NSA surveillance programme was unconstitutional. US District Court Judge Richard Leon not only said that the collection of “metadata” constitutes an unreasonable search or seizure, but that the Framers like Franklin would be “aghast” at the very thought of it.

The great irony is that the greatest loss of constitutional protections has occurred under a man who came to office promising to reform security laws and often refers to himself as a former constitutional law professor. An iconic figure for many liberals, President Barack Obama has divided the civil liberties community and expanded both the security state and his own unchecked powers. He has taken actions that would have made Richard Nixon blush – from warrantless surveillance to quashing dozens of privacy lawsuits, to claiming the right to kill any citizen, on his sole authority. He has also rolled back key international principles in expanding drone attacks and promising not to prosecute officials for torture.

Republican Senator Lindsay Graham scoffed at the notion that privacy is even relevant since only a terrorist would object to such powers.

War on privacy

With his healthcare programme mired in bureaucratic snafus and issues like gun control and immigration floundering in Congress, Obama is entering his final years in office with few clear successes. One of his most notable and ignoble successes has been in his war on privacy in the United States. Obama has not simply ordered massive surveillance of calls and emails of citizens, but he has campaigned to change people’s expectations of what privacy means. His administration advocates a surveillance-friendly form of privacy in a new fishbowl society where the government can track citizens in real time from their purchases and messages. Obama has attempted to convince citizens to trust the government and that they have nothing to fear because he will personally guarantee that these powers are not abused. At the same time, he has opposed any effort to get judicial review of these programs – beyond a laughable secret court with a history of rubber-stamping surveillance demands.

The result is a surveillance state of unprecedented size. Whistle blower Edward Snowden is now a hunted man under the protection of Russia. However, while Obama is demanding Snowden’s arrest, his Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has admitted to lying about the surveillance programmes before Congress. Yet, the Obama Administration has refused to investigate let alone prosecute him for perjury.

Snowden’s disclosures have revealed a massive surveillance system under Obama. The disclosures show that the US has intercepted communications of its closest allies like German Chancellor Andrea Merkel while intercepting calls around the world – 60 million calls in Spain alone. For US citizens, the government has created an almost total transparency in the collection of hundreds of millions of calls and emails. These calls are stored and security officials have instant access to information on the location, time and duration of communications. The Obama Administration has also put journalists under surveillance in an assault on the freedom of the press.

Other politicians have chimed in that only people with something to hide would be concerned over such surveillance. Thus, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham scoffed at the notion that privacy is even relevant since only a terrorist would object to such powers.

‘Online promiscuity’

Of course, the government must often read your mail and listen to calls to determine if you are a terrorist…or just a target. A recent report documented how the National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity to be used to harm the reputation of people considered radicals. Among the targets is at least one individual identified as a “US person”. The NSA is gathering dirt such as “viewing sexually explicit material online”, and “using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls”. Shawn Turner, director of public affairs for National Intelligence, responded to media requests with little more than a shrug, saying such activities “should not be surprising” since the “the US government uses all of the lawful tools at our disposal” against people deemed enemies of the state. Of course, it is available at their disposal because of increased and unchecked powers assumed by this President.

Inside Story – The diplomatic cost of US surveillance
This “watch list” apparently includes people with unpopular views. The published documents refer to one target as attracting the NSA’s ire by arguing that, “Non-Muslims are a threat to Islam,” and then identified his vulnerability as “online promiscuity”. Another academic dared to write in support of the concept of “offensive jihad” and so the NSA targeted him for his “online promiscuity” and noted he “publishes articles without checking facts”.

Bush Administration officials are already applauding Obama for his administration’s gathering of dirt on targeted individuals. Indeed, supporters are now citing the president’s “kill list” as a rationale for this new controversial system under a lesser evil rationale. Stewart Baker, former general counsel for the NSA in the George W Bush administration, insisted that, “on the whole, it’s fairer and maybe more humane” than vaporizing them.

In a prior conference, Obama repeated the siren call of authoritarians throughout history: While these powers are great, our motives are benign. So there you have it. The government is promising to better protect you if you just surrender this last measure of privacy. Perhaps we deserve little better. After all, it was Benjamin Franklin who warned: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University and has testified before Congress on the dangerous expansion of presidential powers.

70 thoughts on “A Republic If You Can Keep It

  1. Al Jazeera? Will you soon be writing a column there on the hazards of theocratic monarchies? Just asking. I don’t get the the current rush to join the Al Jazeera crowd but to each his/her own.

    The expansion of executive powers and the refusal of Dems to object to it is and the GOP’s embrace of it are major elements element in the decline of freedom in this country. When Richard Nixon said: When the president does it, its legal., many of us cringed, screamed and shook our heads at the arrogance. Unfortunately, those words now seem to be a accepted view of many in government expanded to include government agencies like the NSA. Whenever one man or one group views themselves as above the law, humans suffer.

  2. I have been reading the biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson written by Doris Kearns Goodwin back in the 1970s. It is a very good book. Many of us dissed LBJ because of the war. We overlooked his achievement with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965. When he was in the Senate and indeed ran the Senate, he said that it was foolish for the members to think that they could pass an agenda. He said that it took a strong leader in the White House to put forth an agenda and pass it.

    With the NSA problem we have a similar problem as the Vietnam War era. We have a weak Congress and a President who fears this generation of McCarhtyites who will call him Soft on Terrorists. Had Obama been in office in 1965 like LBJ he would be getting the Soft On Communist criticism from the RepubliCons. But as I watch the trash float by on this stream in front of me, I, as a troll, must say that our current problem is not to be cured until we get a better Congress.

    Today or the next day we await a copy of the Complaint that Rand Paul is supposed to file in Court against the NSA. I will scrutinize it. It needs to recite all aspects of the rights of privacy as referenced or which can be elucidated from the Constitution. He needs to cite international law and conventions. The Roberts Court is not going to overturn NSA crimes and misdemeanors. We need a revolution. May Day is coming up. Does anyone have the conviction and energy to March on Washington?

  3. Keeping our country knowledgeable and safe from enemies Domestic has been the most arduous of tasks; because you must work with the system damnation bent of becoming the enemy – in order to maintain checks-n-balances.

  4. This article in al-Jazeera summed up just about everything 2013 had to offer from the executive branch of our government.

    Many now believe the biggest threat to our liberty is not from foreign powers or terrorists, it is the elected leaders of our federal government, either by their actions or their inactions.

  5. Professor, one note. Clapper was not under oath (Feinstein generally refuses to place Admin officials under oath at SSCI) when he gave the duplicitous answer to Sen. Wyden. So the correct crime for Clapper is False Statements under 18 USC §1001 not perjury.

  6. Buster, interesting that Rand Paul is filing suit that will have work its way through the courts. Well ok. But the guy is a senator. Last I heard they can actually write bills. Wouldn’t it make sense that he try to write a bill that greatly restricts the NSA?

    And I’m sure it’s only a very minor point that he is using this suit as a marketing tool to solict from the public names and addresses. I’m sure this information will be of little use to him should he make a run for the presidency.

  7. Justice Holmes 1, January 5, 2014 at 5:46 am

    Al Jazeera? Will you soon be writing a column there on the hazards of theocratic monarchies? Just asking. I don’t get the the current rush to join the Al Jazeera crowd but to each his/her own.

    ======================
    “The virus is not the capsid. Clothes don’t make the man. Don’t judge a book by its cover. The message is not the messenger.” – Anonymous, et al.

    Don’t conflate the message with the messenger.

    Thumbs up to Fox News but not to Al Jazeera is journalistically unbalanced (but common).

    On to the merits …

    JT has spoken truth to power.

    The wholesale destruction of constitutional principles that have traditionally existed in our supreme law for ages, and replacing them with bizarre authoritarian, despotic, totalitarian garbage from the dark ages past, is the greatest threat to our nation in who knows how long.

    JT is spot on in this post and in his column in Al Jazeera.

    We need to lose the parent-government meme (That is Not My Daddy).

  8. BusterTroll,

    Right on! When a president is viewed as being weak, not much gets done. Just look at Jimmy Carter. He got a peace treaty struck between Israel, the merchant of war, and Egypt, clearly now also a merchant of domestic discord. Yet because his “got bin Laden” day failed to free our Iranian Hostages crises, he is viewed as a failure.

    Some one out there, anyone out there, explain to me why having my phone call numbers, dates and times recorded for possible future reference to tie me into conspiracies somehow invades my privacy? Only if I have something else to hide would I claim that it does.

  9. Why is Congress so quiet?

    More particularly, why are the Republicans (who have taken any and all opportunities to fiercely attack Obama) so quiet?

    Cantor, Boehner, McConnell, Cruz, McCain. They’re not exactly shrinking violets. Why are they so quiet?

    And where is Rush, Fox, and the TeaParty on this?

    Snowdon is “hunted”? They’d like him back, but I haven’t seen any evidence that there are agents in Russia trying to track him down. But on the other hand, maybe there is secret delight that he is struck in a freedom loving country like Russia. At any rate, it would seem to be a political nightmare to bring him back here extra-legally. No, much better he stays under the “guardianship” of Putin.

    Might one suggest that there is more than one branch of the government involved in this mess?

    Don’t the courts also play a part?. There’s Leon, of course. But IIRC, more recently another Fed. Judge had an opinion that contradicted Leon. (I’m not a lawyer – so apologies if I am wrong) And haven’t there been numerous courts that have upheld all the laws that have allowed unchecked growth of the NSA?

    And doesn’t Congress keep authorizing the Patriot Act?

  10. Darren Smith 1, January 5, 2014 at 6:31 am

    This article in al-Jazeera summed up just about everything 2013 had to offer from the executive branch of our government.

    Many now believe the biggest threat to our liberty is not from foreign powers or terrorists, it is the elected leaders of our federal government, either by their actions or their inactions.
    ========================
    Bingo.

    If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” – James Madison

    We had gifted forefathers and foremothers.

    JT quoted Franklin “if you can keep it” in the context of domestic enemies.

    Domestic enemies of the U.S. Constitution.

    One of our problems is that we fail to recognize that enmity against fairness and freedom as dementia, i.e., a cognitive disease.

    A further extension of that problem is that we never developed a group-oriented discipline, beyond individual psychology, to deal with that dementia.

    I mean that in the sense of the group psychoanalysis that Freud advocated:

    I would not say that such an attempt to apply psychoanalysis to civilized society would be fanciful or doomed to fruitlessness.

    The diagnosis of collective neuroses, moreover, will be confronted by a special difficulty. In the neurosis of an individual we can use as a starting point the contrast presented to us between the patient and his environment which we assume to be normal. No such background as this would be available for any society similarly affected; it would have to be supplied in some other way. And with regard to any therapeutic application of our knowledge, what would be the use of the most acute analysis of social neuroses, since no one possesses power to compel the community to adopt the therapy? In spite of all these difficulties, we may expect that one day someone will venture upon this research into the pathology of civilized communities.

    (Social Dementia Causes Heated Misunderestimations – 3, quoting Freud).

  11. There is some dust-up over the military NSA spying on congress:

    The National Security Agency on Saturday released a statement in answer to questions from a senator about whether it “has spied, or is … currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials”, in which it did not deny collecting communications from legislators of the US Congress to whom it says it is accountable.

    In a letter dated 3 January, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont defined “spying” as “gathering metadata on calls made from official or personal phones, content from websites visited or emails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business”.

    (Guardian).

  12. While I agree with most of what Prof Turley has to say on things, he goes overboard on remembering Nixon and his powers or claims of it. As one poster noted, Nixon stated that if the President orders it, it is legal. Now THAT is FAR worse than anything Obama has done or claimed. In FACT, Nixon did order the killing of US citizens abroad because they discovered things Nixon wanted kept secret. Those citizens were not engaged in violent armed activities, nor had over 3000 people died as a result of their activities. I think that is a large difference between the conditions to say the least. Nixon used his dictatorial powers to screw his political enemies for no other reason that they were a threat to him politically, not because of an armed assault on the entire people of the USA.

    He also has to ignore the successes that Obama has had in his term of office. This President is the best one of my lifetime in terms of personal impact on my life. The only President who had a more immediate and not so benign impact was LBJ and Vietnam. Thanks to Obama I got my job back with the cash for clunkers, and the government save of the auto industry. My wife finally got health care insurance thanks to Obama care which is something which would have been impossible before. Not bad for a guy who you have to denounce on other grounds

    One can make a case for the US in fact being at war, and meeting the conditions for suspending the writ of habeus corpus Perhaps Prof Turley might be mollified if Congress makes a declaration of war against Al Qeada, but I doubt it. It would make such actions perfectly legal in that case, just as the internment of Japanese Americans, and German Americans was legal in WWII..

    I am not at all troubled by the US killing American citizens who are supporting or aiding materially the terrorists who are using armed actions against us. This policy is only applied in areas where there is no government agency the US can use to apprehend such persons. He is NOT using drones to kill Americans in Western Europe, nor any other place where governments CAN bring these people to court. As I have pointed out, the US drones strikes are done with the tacit APPROVAL of the concerned governments. These governments have more than adequate means to militarily stop such attacks since all it takes is a C-182 and a large caliber rifle to shoot them down. As for the “rights” of these Americans, they are fully aware of the fact that they are in a combatant area, and that they are subject to military attacks as a result. One has to remember that the UK and the US executed US and UK citizens during WWII who adhered to the enemies of us and who did nothing more than speak or write in support of these fascists. The fact is that if you choose to stand next to Hitler, or live next to a war industry, you have no expectation of a claim of being a civilian and that you should not be a target along with these legitimate targets. Let’s use some common sense in this.

    The claims against the NSA are another matter and need to be addressed by legislation and penalties.

  13. >In the summer of 1787, a crowd gathered around Independence Hall to learn what type of government their representatives had formed for the new nation.

    That’s kind of a myth, and an insidious one at that. You’re useless as a liberal or progressive until you come to terms with this.

    We had a government, called the Articles of Confederation. The Framers met in Philadelphia with “the sole and express purpose” of amending the Articles of Confederation. They returned instead with a whole new government, and bypassed the existing amendment procedures to enact their new government. Sounds a little like a coup, no?

    The Constitution was not popular. Turnout was very low, and largely restricted to urban areas. Also, enfranchisement was low: women couldn’t vote, blacks couldn’t vote, wage laborers didn’t earn enough money to vote, and subsistence farmers didn’t own enough land.

    All told, maybe about 15% of the total population could vote. The vote to ratify was extremely close in may areas. Several states refused to ratify, and did so only for fear of being excluded from the new Constitution’s economic security.

    When you look at things by the numbers, “WE, the People” represented the will of maybe 7% of the population.

    Justice Marshall in his biography of Washington wrote:

    “Neither the intrinsic merits of the constitution, nor the imposing weight of character by which it was supported, gave assurance that it would be adopted. Its friends and its enemies were stimulated to exertion by motives equally powerful; and, during the interval between its publication and adoption, every faculty of the mind was strained to secure its reception or rejection. The press teemed with the productions of genius, of temperate reason, and of passion.
    To decide the interesting question which agitated a continent, the best talents of the several states were assembled in their several conventions.”

    “So balanced were parties in some of them, that even after the subject had been discussed for a considerable time, the fate of the constitution could scarcely be conjectured; and so small, in many instances, was the majority in its favor, as to afford strong ground for the opinion, that had the influence of character been removed, the intrinsic merits of the instrument would not have secured its adoption.”

    In arguing for a new Constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation, Founding Father Elbridge Gerry complained to the Constitutional Convention on May 31, 1787: “The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy.”  Founding Father Edmund Randolf also complained about the “turbulence and follies of democracy.”  In Convention, Founding Father John Dickinson argued against expanding political enfranchisement: “The danger to free governments has not been from freeholders, but those who are not freeholders.”  Dickinson went so far as to claim that a constitutional monarchy was “one of the best Governments in the world.”

    Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, in Convention on June 18, 1787, expressed his belief that “nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy … you cannot have a sound executive upon a democratic plan.”  In The Federalist #10, James Madison wrote: “democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention, have ever been found incompatible with personal security and the rights of property.”

    The Framers were not in the least motivated by a desire for democracy. They feared the idea. The Constitution was their plan to prevent the emergence of Democracy, and they were quote good at their planning. It took 200 years for universal suffrage to become a reality.

  14. P.S.

    >Some 226 years after those fateful words were uttered, the true import of Franklin’s warning has become all too real for Americans.

    No, that’s inaccurate. We’ve only had universal suffrage in a substantive sense since the Civil Rights era.

    Since Louis Powell launched the conservative backlash against decades of progressive reform, the best we can say is that Franklin’s warning has only been relevant since 1970 or so.

  15. If you criticize a president, you must compare him to past examples. The job remains the same. It is those that occupy the office that come and go. After a few years and continuing, it becomes apparent to those who take the time what the particular president did, why, and how well.

    bush bungled two wars. The Afghanistan war will continue to cost untold innocent lives well after the US and its allies have left. The job was not done properly due entirely to the commander in chief and his decision to depend on ‘shock and awe’, his prediction that every Afghanistani had an American flag under their bed and was waiting for the day the GIs would come marching into town. The Iraqi war was not only unnecessary and also bungled from the beginning. There was no need to invade to effect a regime change. Selective and surgical bombing, a closed airspace over the entire country, and indications that a moderate replacement would be supported would have been all that was necessary to topple Saddam. After all, that is how he got into power. However, for eight months after the regime was eliminated, the US military stood by and allowed chaos to take its place. The Iraqis took control through any means.

    Carter put America on track to recognizing its weaknesses. He mandated emission and milage controls, had Detroit not been let off the hook by Reagan, would have kept the US auto industry competitive technologically. He didn’t pay enough attention to the economy in the short term. Reagan lowered taxes and increased spending, created an enemy to pull the country together, and later regretted it as the country slipped into a seven year recession. He was a flash in the pan of Dr. Feel Good. The Iran Contra affair makes Benghazi seem like nothing.

    Obama is not, by any means, perfect. He has missed the point on several issues or maybe these moves are just the first of many that have to be made in the face of the opposition before the desired results show up and we can all go aha.

    I could go on but the point is, compare the deeds of each president. I realize that we only get one at a time, but America is shaped by them all.

  16. A very good subject to bring up & you cover the first several paragraphs very well, particularly on the incredibly antifreedom stance of Obama from the NDA Act to legalizing Drone Strikes in the USA. After that it gets a little lost for my tastes; the important things have already been stated. No problem with Al Jazeera if it reports better than our own media; so far that is the case; RT also, even tho it stands for Russian Television.

  17. It would be a good question to ask how come Al Jazeera looks out for the American people better than any large USA based reporting service, in total contrast to radical Muslims & our radical US government. Same with RT whose adjenda seems to be to expose the truth, rather than give a Russian viewpoint. Could it be that our government has it in for rational Muslim ideals & a more rational Russia (we’ve seen that with Snowden’s protection) & the best way to do that is to expose the truth to Americans in the hope they can curb their government? Either that or simply finding a safe voice for rational America for its own sake.

  18. Arthur Randolph Erb 1, January 5, 2014 at 8:53 am 

    You said:

    One can make a case for the US in fact being at war, and meeting the conditions for suspending the writ of habeus corpus …

    One can make an argument for anything, including an argument that “torture is good”, but making the argument is not the end of the matter. In every case someone makes the wrong argument and loses the case thereby.
    ==========================
    You said:

    Perhaps Prof Turley might be mollified if Congress makes a declaration of war against Al Qeada, but I doubt it. It would make such actions perfectly legal in that case, just as the internment of Japanese Americans, and German Americans was legal in WWII …

    Doing wrong by disobeying the constitution (e.g. 4th & 5th Amendment) is supreme wrong not supreme right. Like internment of Americans without cause during WWII. Calling it legal is psychological denial, not an argument.
    ==========================
    You said:

    I am not at all troubled by the US killing American citizens who are supporting or aiding materially the terrorists who are using armed actions against us.

    You forgot the 5th Amendment and that courts with juries are the deciders of who did what when, not the Executive or Congress. If that does not trouble you, there are job openings at the military NSA that should last longer than Automobile Factory jobs, what with people not being concerned about the rule of constitutional law and stuff.
    ==========================
    You said:

    [Obama] is NOT using drones to kill Americans in Western Europe, nor any other place where governments CAN bring these people to court. As I have pointed out, the US drones strikes are done with the tacit APPROVAL of the concerned governments.

    Tacit approval by dictatorial governments of illegal acts is not something a sane government should brag or crow about.

  19. I’m in agreement with Darren and laser…..

    What has been thrown away in the name of security will take more than an undoing of the McCarthy years….. When will someone in power take on those with power….

  20. Drone strikes by US may violate international law, says UN:

    A United Nations investigation has so far identified 33 drone strikes around the world that have resulted in civilian casualties and may have violated international humanitarian law.

    The report by the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson QC, calls on the US to declassify information about operations co-ordinated by the CIA and clarify its positon on the legality of unmanned aerial attacks.

    Published ahead of a debate on the use of remotely piloted aircraft, at the UN general assembly in New York next Friday, the 22-page document examines incidents in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan and Gaza.

    It has been published to coincide with a related report released earlier on Thursday by Professor Christof Heyns, the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, which warned that the technology was being misused as a form of “global policing”.

    (Guardian, 10/18/2013).

  21. Anonymously Yours 1, January 5, 2014 at 10:31 am

    What has been thrown away in the name of security will take more than an undoing of the McCarthy years….. When will someone in power take on those with power….
    =====================
    Indeed.

    It is incredible how powerful American propaganda is, I mean on the cognition of American citizens:


    2. A poll of people in 65 countries, including the United States, finds that the United States is overwhelmingly considered the greatest threat to peace in the world. The consensus would have been even stronger had the United States itself not been polled, because the 5 percent of humanity living here is largely convinced that the other 95% of humanity — that group with experience being threatened or attacked by the United States — is wrong. After all, our government in the U.S. tells us it’s in favor of peace. Even when it bombs cities, it does it for peace. It’s hard for people under the bombs to see that. We in the U.S. have a better perspective.

    3. Polls in the United States through the 2003-2011 war on Iraq found that a majority in the U.S. believed Iraqis were better off as the result of a war that severely damaged — even destroyed — Iraq[1]. A majority of Iraqis, in contrast, believed they were worse off.[2] A majority in the United States believed Iraqis were grateful.[3] This is a disagreement over facts, not ideology. But people often choose which facts to become aware of or to accept. Tenacious believers in tales of Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” tended to believe more, not less, firmly when shown the facts. The facts about Iraq are not pleasant, but they are important. To believe that the people who live where your nation’s government has waged a war are better off for it, despite those people’s contention that they are worse off, suggests an extreme sort of arrogance — and a misplaced arrogance because you’ve just proven that a few slick politicians can make you believe up is down.

    4. According to U.S.ians the greatest threat to peace on earth is a nation that hasn’t threatened any other, and hasn’t attacked any other in centuries, a nation that suffered horrible chemical weapons attacks and refused to use chemical weapons in response, a nation that has refused to develop nuclear weapons but been falsely accused of doing so by the U.S. government for decades. That’s right: a bit of laughably bad propaganda, regurgitated in variations for 30 years, and the smart critical thinkers of the Land of the Free declare a nation with a military budget below 1% of their own — Iran — the Greatest Threat to Peace.[4] Edward Bernays is cackling wickedly in his grave.

    5. Because no cartoon character has ever been named after Edward Bernays, nobody’s ever heard of him.

    6. In poll after poll after poll, 75% to 85% in the United States say their system of government is broken. Yet, what remains the top piece of advice to agitators for change? That’s right: “Work within the system.” And what remains the fallback ultimate reliable justification for launching or escalating or continuing a war: That’s right: “We need to bring our system of government to others.”

    (Top 10 Proofs People Can Be Completely Manipulated Without Hypnosis).

  22. Great article Professor. I do believe that until we get money out of politics, we have no hope of curing many of these ills that you speak of. Citizens United needs to be over turned and then restrictions put on donations by real people and corporations will be necessary before any substantial improvement can occur.

  23. Justice Holmes: I was asked to do a couple of pieces for AJ by friends. I am always glad to reach a new audience like that one but I remain a columnist at USA Today. I will occasionally write for other newspaper like the Washington Post etc.

    bmaz: I agree. There is a degree of simplification in columns due to the extremely limited space. It is the cost of writing for some outfits. Your point is still a good one.

  24. “Metadata, metadata, nothing but trash..” So say the Clappers. When I emailed a retail company about a part that they sold I began getting ads on my screen for the same items from competitors. Google was reading my email. Those of you who think that the NSA is just following paths of phone calls or perhaps the paths of emails should open the mind. They are reading your email. They can read this email even if I is not published on he blog here. If I email my Congressman and ask him to vote against the NSA on some bill they know that it was I who petitioned my government for redress of grievances and furher they know what I said in the form of free speech. If I email the ACLU and ask them to file suit to stop the NSA I am trying to organize folks, this is the right to assemble under the First Amendment. The NSA has full knowledge of the ACLU lawsuit and is leaning on the district court judge before it is even filed. The NSA knows about some legislator’s daughter getting laid out of wedlock and bends the arm of the legislator. Old lady Feinstein cant swear Clapper to testify under oath. So he can lie under pretense of oath.

    It is true that if the FBI and CIA knew in advance that seven or so arabs were going to arm themselves with box cutters and take over a plane and fly it into the Pentagon or Twin Towers that they might have stopped it. Which is why we are in Afghanistan looking for arabs with box cutters.

  25. Great post. Thank you Professor Turley.
    I am amazed at the number of posters that disagree and think that our government breaking the Constitution is just fine. One of the posts even bragged bout all the goodies Obama gave him. In other words, pay me off and you can do anything you want.

    We have a Constitution that is a contract between people and its government. Sure, we the people have to obey laws and pay consequences if we break them. The government also has obligations that it can and cannot do. Reading your mail or monitoring your phone calls is one of those things that we have a 4th amendment prescribing exactly how the government can do this if they suspect you are a threat.

    How does anyone think that dropping bombs in foreign lands, killing men, women and children, is not an act of War? Where is the declaration of War?

  26. Excellent article. It properly frames the concerns of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin with the loss of privacy and freedom under President Obama.

    The only way to reverse course other than by revolution is for public pressure to rise up to such a degree that tyrants feel pressured to stop. This happened with President Nixon. I just don’t know if we have a culture anymore that recognizes the errors enough to do it. Nixon’s White House Plumbers would not even be considered scandalous by today’s standards, much less a basis for impeachment or for a President to resign from office.

  27. ya’ know… since our President has received over 400% more death threats during his time so far than ANY OTHER PRESIDENT IN U.S. HISTORY, maybe there’s a reason for “safety, liberty and transparency”…did you ever consider that? I mean, come on…if you are going to “blame” President Obama for our loss of privacy, HIS SAFETY, HIS LIBERTY TO MOVE ABOUT… damned straight he’s got the right of way!!!
    the hate speech from the religious righteous have brought this particular brand of ‘over sight’ upon themselves…all they had to do was shut up and get along!
    blame THEM!

  28. I enjoyed the piece and agree. In light of Klayman v Obama, ACLU v Clapper and more it seems the Supreme Court will have to address it.

    What will they decide?

    Could be a pivotal moment for our Country.

    This all begs the question for me which is if we feel compelled to surrender our freedom in order to protect it, have we won or lost the war on terror? have we “lost the republic” to quote Franklin?

  29. I see that Paul has little or no knowledge of US history or the Constitution in addition to not understanding English. First off, the first military actions the US took after the Revolution was the undeclared war against the Barbary States in which the US Navy bombarded a number of MUSLIM cities. I assume that a number of civilians were being blown up along with the pirates since accuracy was not a long suit back then. So I guess the people who WROTE the Constitution had NO idea of what it said. Yet I know that Paul knows far more about it than they according to himself.

    Then we have the fact that ALL governments have different laws that apply in wartime than in peace. Under the US Constitution, we have the clause which allows for the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in case of invasion or civil insurrection. That means that the bill of rights is suspended in fact. Of course, in our history, the Bill of Rights has only recently had any substance and was not applied to the states at all until recently. So there was no freedom of the press, speech, and in many states, no freedom of religion. The 14th amendment is what expanded those rights to the internal regimes of the states, and even then in the south it was a dead letter until the 60s.

    I wish that Paul would read what I actually wrote in response to the accusation that Obama has had few accomplishments other than the security state. I was NOT saying that his infractions which I do NOT approve of is OK as long as I get some payoffs. I can understand his confusion since that may be how he functions. For a point of FACT, the Obama care law is working quite well now since my wife and millions of others now have health care insurance. Not too bad since NO President has even accomplished as much on that subject in our history, apart from LBJ and his reform was not as sweeping. I will take such success any day, as will most historians. I am quite happy to have a job, and I have Obama to thank for that as well. If you are wealthy or have a job, I see that such things like health care and employment mean little to you as long as YOU have them.

  30. Dredd, the FACT is that suspending the writ of habeas corpus is a part of the US Constitution in case of invasion or civil insurrection. The FACT is that the SCOTUS has repeatedly ruled that the government has that power as a legitimate power under the Constitution and that the internment of people during WWII was perfectly LEGAL if unwise and unjustified in some cases. So that issue has been long decided. The other legal question about interning persons has likewise been settled law ever since 1798 which you will note is the year in which the writers of the Constitution had power. During WWII, German saboteurs landed in the US. They were caught, two of them were in FACT US citizens and FDR established a military tribunal for them. They were found guilty and one US citizen was executed with the blessing of the SCOTUS.

    I did not say torture is good or lawful, so save your strawman arguments for the more ignorant readers. I also did not say the NSA spying is legal either. So save your W Bush logic of your are with us or against us illogic for others. You also have no sense of reality since a person has to be caught before any trial can be held. To say that a combatant must be given a trial in our courts before any punishment or killing them can occur is absurd. In such a view, the police cannot use deadly force against ANY person under any circumstances. There is NO court or government or law on earth that has such a view. In fact, your objections are bogus in the extreme. If you are indeed serious about this view, THEN it requires the US to take an extraterritorial view of US law and that the US has the RIGHT to invade any foreign country, to catch or kill a wanted US citizen. Is that any more reasonable than using the US drones to kill them? Which do you think is less invasive?

    I recall also that during WWII, Ezra Pound was an active fascist who made broadcasts during WWII for Hitler and Mussolini. He was arrested, and imprisoned after the war for his activities. Would it have been illegal for FDR to have the 15th Air Force drop some bombs on Pounds villa? I doubt it. It would have saved us some trouble and time as long as it did not distract from more important targets. The Brits arrested and executed the Brit known as Lord HawHaw who made propaganda broadcasts for Hitler. Think that was unfair or that the Brits should not have bombed him if they knew where he was? I assume that if the Brits had bombed Hitlers dinner parties that too would arouse your ire since it would kill a number of women and children.
    Most rational people would not have any problem with such actions which is why there is so little outcry about the drone strikes. I also recall that the people who are being bombed are the ones who murder thousands of innocents, so I am not too troubled if their innocents get the same consideration. The majority of people in Pakistan, Africa, India, Yemen and other people live in the fear of being murdered as they go about their daily lives, yet the people in the ungoverned areas who are being hit by drone strikes should be exempt from similar fears? I don’t think so. My objection to drone strikes is that they miss their intended targets in many cases. Of course, the US military does not like that fact either since it is a waste of perfectly good bombs on the wrong targets.

  31. david Since I and others who I know personally were the targets of Nixon’s illegal activities, you are woefully ignorant of the full extent of his criminal actions. Then there is his statement that if the President orders it, it is legal which is FAR beyond anything that some accuse Obama of doing. Nixon was worse since he ordered or allowed the murder of US citizens who were not engaged in any illegal acts against the US or acts of violence. At least the persons who have been killed overseas were clearly outside all laws and were engaged in violent warfare against the US. As I pointed out earlier, if the US kills any Muslim students on spring break enjoying the beaches in Afghanistan, Yemen, or Pakistan, THEN I most certainly will join the chorus denouncing such killings.

    If you can find similar actions of Obama getting people fired from their jobs for their political views, getting records of bank accounts illegally, sending the IRS against his opponents, breaking and entering residences, burglary, theft, illegal wire taps, attempted and actual murder in the US of US citizens, and many other criminal activities, THEN you might have a point. In fact, the US is a FAR freer country now than when I was growing up and for much of my adult life. THAT is why there is no such outcry against Obama since I and millions of others DO remember the reality of those bad old days. In short, GIVE US A BREAK when you call Nixon not as bad as the current situation.

  32. Great piece. Obama has brought Chicago politics to DC. People who have “leaked” from the West Wing say that Axelrod and Jarrett have the ear of the prez, two classic Chicago pols. They call the shots. I’m sure those thugs are spending a lotta time and taxpayer money finding those leakers. This administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers and leakers than all former administrations combined. Nixon is green w/ envy as he watches…from Hell!

  33. RandyJet wrote: “Since I and others who I know personally were the targets of Nixon’s illegal activities, you are woefully ignorant of the full extent of his criminal actions.”

    Please fill us in on the details so that we will not remain ignorant.

    RandyJet wrote: “Nixon was worse since he ordered or allowed the murder of US citizens who were not engaged in any illegal acts against the US or acts of violence.”

    Can you be a little less vague about what you are talking about here? I hope you are not talking about Kent State.

  34. Jonathan, I have been a supporter of yours for a LONG time… I admire the quality about your ability to think sideways… Independently …. Uniquely… With this diatribe, it seems to me you have fallen into a swill pool somewhere and just seem to not be able to get up, OR YOU ACTUALLY LIKE being in this particular swill pool. What happened ??? Barack Obama DID NOT DO THIS ALL ALONE. This behavior is NOT unique to Obama’s tenure in the office of the President. It DID NOT START THERE.

    If you and colleagues would do a side-by-side straw man of Obama versus Cheney, the TRUTH would be show a DEEP tear in the fabric of our Nation when Cheney was trying to take over the world versus where we are today. It was SO OBVIOUS, even to the average man on the street, that Cheney was pushing us hard into a planet ending conflict, where as today we may have a slice of a chance in surviving another few days.

    I DO NOT SUPPORT what Obama and many of his people are doing. Many of their actions are not forgivable on any platform. There will be a huge price for them to pay over the years of history left in their existence. But there is the difference in what we are today versus what we MAY have been had the elections had different outcomes. I truly believe we, as a nation, would NOT EXIST TODAY, if McCain and his gang of certifiable supporters had been guiding the country over the past few years. We, simply, would have been destroyed.

  35. It’s the sad story of our Republic…….Thugs All Over. Some are just wealthier than others. Walker has handed over a big hunk of northwest Wisconsin to Koch so Koch Industries can mine it. But I’m sure the following had NOTHING to do with Walker’s gift to Koch.

    Contributions to Scott Walker[edit]According to Mother Jones Magazine, Koch Industries’ Political Action Committee contributed the second largest donation to Scott Walker’s 2010 campaign for governor of Wisconsin. It donated $43,000, second in size only to PAC donations of $43,125 from Wisconsin realtors and Wisconsin home builders.[43] The maximum contribution allowed by law is $43,128.[53] That contribution amounted to less than one half of one percent of Walker’s campaign total [54] because of the limits placed on campaign contributions.[53] Most support for Walker actually was in the form of independent expenditures estimated at $3 million from Americans for Prosperity.[55] After Walker took office, he and the Republican representatives in the Wisconsin House enacted legislation that placed limitations on collective bargaining by public employees. Widespread protests ensued. In February 2011, the New York Times reported that Americans for Prosperity had actively supported Walker’s proposed bill.[56] Due to Koch’s contribution to Walker’s campaign, David Koch became a symbolic target for the protests.[54]

    According to the Palm Beach Post, David Koch has been very active in Wisconsin politics with the group Americans for Prosperity. Americans for Prosperity reportedly spent $700,000 on ads supporting Governor Scott Walker’s changes to collective bargaining

  36. It is disingenuous to attack issues by barking about complaints of other issues; instead of sticking with the facts at hand.

    Like our quest for justice against Romney & Gang;
    who is no longer a POTUS wannabe.

    Attack Cheney, and/or Bush and/or McCain and/or Obama upon the merits in articles that detail those issues separately.

    Professor Turley has been outspoken against POTUS Obama’s policies when he has felt the calling to do so; and that’s what makes this realm SUPER.

    This Org is one based on integrity and good faith – and I’m proud to know of it!

  37. JT,

    That was an excellent summation.

    However, you could have also titled it …

    “Forget it Jake; it’s Chinatown.”

  38. Laser, Calling ANYONE on horseshit is what makes Mr. Turley unique. In my lifetime[early 60’s] that was commonplace. That quality of “Calling it the way you see it” is now found only on the baseball field by umps, and by a select few pundits, our host being one.

  39. gotta love those who are trying their hardest to make a case for the loss of life.liberty, rights and freedoms. it has never occured to them that obama and his octupus handlers are behind every war, attack and terrorist action that has plagued the world..

    ex lets start from the titanic a ship that was made to be unsinkable it hit one little iceberg just one sos calls that were supposed to be sent out never were. coast guard boats waiting in the middle of the ocean were never signalled. and BAM the titanic hit a iceberg and mysteriously sunk!!!!???? are you kidding me? really 2500 people lost their lives what amazes me is that the the titanic hit a iceberg and there wasnt even a crack in the iceberg but the titanic sank…. answer to question insurance scam

    http://henrymakow.com/was_sinking_the_titanic.html

    The Olympic, damaged in a collision and destined for the scrapyard, may have been disguised as its sister ship, the Titanic. This raises questions about the true nature of the “accident”

    In 1908, financier J.P. Morgan planned a brand new class of luxury liners that would enable the wealthy to cross the Atlantic in previously undreamed-of opulence. The construction of the giant vessels, the ‘Olympic’, the ‘Titanic’ and the ‘Britannic,’ began in 1909 at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland.

    Unfortunately for Morgan, this money-making venture went a little awry. The Olympic, the first of the three sister-ships to be completed was involved in a serious collision with the British Royal Navy cruiser, HMS Hawke in September 1911 in Southampton a few weeks after its maiden voyage. It had to be ‘patched-up’ before returning to Belfast to undergo proper repair work.

    In hindsight, it does seem strange that the Olympic, the first of the ‘sisters’ to enter service, was never given the publicity her younger sister, the Titanic, enjoyed the following year Why would that be?

    EVERY WAR WE WERE FORCED INTO turned out to make who rich? and how did our youth of each war end up?

    9/11 3 tower buildings that held all the major offices of all the high powered corporations.. also built to be unsinkable, immune to bombing, etc.. suddenly went down with 2 planes hitting the middle of 2 of the towers and yet 3 towers went completely down with the 3rd tower not even being touched by a plane, debris, etc…. 3,000 lives lost all jews told to stay home that day. 600 of the 3,000 were workers for canter fitzgerald which was the biggest and best brokerage house operating in the world at the time it was also being shut down and broken up. and all 600 workers were there that day and all died. 4 planes hijacked by syrians with box cutters and one bb gun with the air force performing flying exercises in the new york area told to stand down.

    I can go on and one but it isnt my job to convince all of you to STOP BEING SHEEPLE to the lies, and paying for 13 ruling lying pathetic families to enslave you… its not my job to do your research for you. to show you just how brainwashed you all are… im going to post one last piece of history and if you arent convinced by it then you never will and DO NOT WANT TO BE..

    Rosa Parks during a time when black men and women were killed for just looking at white people… sat at the front of a bus and when told to go to the back refused.. now thousands of blacks had been tortured and killed for less but somehow Rosa Parks defied a white bus driver and a precinct full of cops not only to live but to become a pivotal pioneer of civil rights???!!!!???? really? and exactly what made Rosa so much better then the thousands of blacks killed long before and after her??

    and for those of you who do not know im a 45 year old black single parent of 4 children…. i even have a face book page lol Robin Hairs is the name

  40. **A Republic If You Can Keep It

    1, January 5, 2014 by jonathanturley
    **

    Excellent article professor Turley.

    By all means keep up the fight.

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  42. randyjet

    Dredd, the FACT is that suspending the writ of habeas corpus is a part of the US Constitution in case of invasion or civil insurrection. The FACT is that the SCOTUS has repeatedly ruled that the government has that power as a legitimate power under the Constitution and that the internment of people during WWII was perfectly LEGAL

    ===============================
    Of course, then, you can cite to the S.Ct. cases that say it is ok at this time to intern American citizens because of their race, national origin, or ethnicity?

    If not, you are advocating a deranged ideology, not constitutional law.

  43. randyjet

    I did not say torture is good or lawful, so save your strawman arguments for the more ignorant readers. I also did not say the NSA spying is legal either.

    ======================
    I only responded to Arthur Randolph Erb, not to you when I talked about that in response to ARE.

    Because you did not say it, but ARE did.

    So, are you his pocket rocket, jet sock puppet, little jet brother, or simply jet confused?

    Never mind, I answered my own question it seems.

  44. Excellent column. We’re in more trouble than many realize.

    Chris Hedges, yesterday:

    The Last Gasp of American Democracy

    Posted on Jan 5, 2014

    Excerpts:

    The Stasi did not set up massive death camps and gulags. It did not have to. The Stasi, with a network of as many as 2 million informants in a country of 17 million, was everywhere. There were 102,000 secret police officers employed full time to monitor the population—one for every 166 East Germans. The Nazis broke bones; the Stasi broke souls. The East German government pioneered the psychological deconstruction that torturers and interrogators in America’s black sites, and within our prison system, have honed to a gruesome perfection.

    Advertisement
    The goal of wholesale surveillance, as Arendt wrote in “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” is not, in the end, to discover crimes, “but to be on hand when the government decides to arrest a certain category of the population.” And because Americans’ emails, phone conversations, Web searches and geographical movements are recorded and stored in perpetuity in government databases, there will be more than enough “evidence” to seize us should the state deem it necessary. This information waits like a deadly virus inside government vaults to be turned against us. It does not matter how trivial or innocent that information is. In totalitarian states, justice, like truth, is irrelevant.

    The object of efficient totalitarian states, as George Orwell understood, is to create a climate in which people do not think of rebelling, a climate in which government killing and torture are used against only a handful of unmanageable renegades. The totalitarian state achieves this control, Arendt wrote, by systematically crushing human spontaneity, and by extension human freedom. It ceaselessly peddles fear to keep a population traumatized and immobilized. It turns the courts, along with legislative bodies, into mechanisms to legalize the crimes of state.

    The ability of the citizenry to take self-corrective measures is effectively stymied. And in the end, as in all totalitarian systems, the citizens become the victims of government folly, monstrous lies, rampant corruption and state terror.

    The Romanian poet Paul Celan captured the slow ingestion of an ideological poison—in his case fascism—in his poem “Death Fugue”:

    Black milk of dawn we drink it at dusk
    we drink it at noon and at daybreak we drink it at night
    we drink it and drink it
    we are digging a grave in the air there’s room for us all

    We, like those in all emergent totalitarian states, have been mentally damaged by a carefully orchestrated historical amnesia, a state-induced stupidity. We increasingly do not remember what it means to be free. And because we do not remember, we do not react with appropriate ferocity when it is revealed that our freedom has been taken from us. The structures of the corporate state must be torn down. Its security apparatus must be destroyed. And those who defend corporate totalitarianism, including the leaders of the two major political parties, fatuous academics, pundits and a bankrupt press, must be driven from the temples of power. Mass street protests and prolonged civil disobedience are our only hope. A failure to rise up—which is what the corporate state is counting upon—will see us enslaved.

  45. Excerpt from Hedges’ column (link, above):

    “The ability of the citizenry to take self-corrective measures is effectively stymied. And in the end, as in all totalitarian systems, the citizens become the victims of government folly, monstrous lies, rampant corruption and state terror.

    The Romanian poet Paul Celan captured the slow ingestion of an ideological poison—in his case fascism—in his poem “Death Fugue”:

    Black milk of dawn we drink it at dusk
    we drink it at noon and at daybreak we drink it at night
    we drink it and drink it
    we are digging a grave in the air there’s room for us all

    We, like those in all emergent totalitarian states, have been mentally damaged by a carefully orchestrated historical amnesia, a state-induced stupidity. We increasingly do not remember what it means to be free. And because we do not remember, we do not react with appropriate ferocity when it is revealed that our freedom has been taken from us. The structures of the corporate state must be torn down. Its security apparatus must be destroyed. And those who defend corporate totalitarianism, including the leaders of the two major political parties, fatuous academics, pundits and a bankrupt press, must be driven from the temples of power. Mass street protests and prolonged civil disobedience are our only hope. A failure to rise up—which is what the corporate state is counting upon—will see us enslaved.”

  46. -“I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom. That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. That is not who we are.”
    Barrack Obama 2007

  47. Dredd, the Constitution is very clear as to when the writ of habeas corpus can be suspended and says nothing about interning persons In peacetime. There is NO such order or law claimed by Obama, nor any person who is interned under such reasons as ethnicity, race, or national origin. In time of war, there is a large body of law unfortunately, which voids much of our constitutional rights. It is not restricted to times of invasion, or civil insurrection as laid out in that document. One of the worst examples are the laws passed during WWI in which free speech, press, assembly, etc.. were all voided even though there was no danger of invasion or civil insurrection.

    A common sense reading of the Constitution and ample precedent has established that the President, FDR in this case, has the power to do the interning of any person given the fact of Japanese invasion of US territory.

    My e-mail is randyjet, and that is why sometimes my posts come up with either name. I think that most folks here know me by both names.

  48. Anon, I wish that you and Hedges would take your own advice and remember history about civil liberties in the US. I DO remember the McCarthy era, and during Vietnam when there were massive violations of freedoms. Then since you were obviously not involved in the Civil Rights movement, you have no memory of the state sponsored murders, mass incarcerations, and state sponsored terrorism that is FAR worse than ANYTHING we have now. There are so many daily items of oppression that were a fact of life back then that I do not have time to list all of them. In fact, compared to back then, we are FAR better off. While I disagree with most of the state snooping being done, it is relatively benign compared to the past when a person would be sent to prison for their politics and lawful activity. In many states the authorities were free to murder their political opponents and did. When you can show me a similar plethora of crimes on the part of the states or government, then I and most Americans will do what is needed.

    Just because you don’t win an election or your candidate or program does not win, does NOT mean there is a dictatorship. Let the rightwing nuts play that idiotic game.

  49. randyjet wrote: “While I disagree with most of the state snooping being done, it is relatively benign compared to the past when a person would be sent to prison for their politics and lawful activity. In many states the authorities were free to murder their political opponents and did.”

    I wish you would explain what you mean. Give us some specifics. Name political prisoners of the U.S. who did not engage in unlawful activity, such as throwing rocks, trespassing, engaging in sit-ins, stirring up violent riots which destroyed property and maimed people, engaged in smoking illegal substances, public nudity, etc. Who was ever imprisoned simply for their political views? Name the political opponents who were murdered. Some of us apparently are not as old as you, and we are grossly ignorant of these incidents that you seem to assume we know about.

  50. david it is hard to believe that you are so ignorant of US history. To start with relatively recent history meaning WWII and after. The Smith Act was applied to the leading members of the Socialist Workers Party in which they went to prison for their politics. Then after the beginning of the Cold War over 50 members of the CPUSA went to prison for the same “crime”, and a couple of them were executed with the collusion of the prison authorities. The SCOTUS later ruled most of that act unconstitutional and no further charges were brought. Then during Vietnam, you are ignorant of the trial of Dr. Spock, the baby doctor not of the Enterprise and Sloan Coffin for making anti-war speeches advocating resistance to the war and the draft. The political opponents who were murdered are too numerous to mention, especially in the south. One of the best known is Medgar Evers who the Jackson airport is now named after, which I really appreciate since I fly into Jackson and it gives me GREAT satisfaction. There were literally thousands in that category. Then there is one of my own union, Karen Silkwood who was murdered by persons unknown.

    Then Nixon or some persons in the CIA ordered the murder of Charles Horman by the Chilean fascist in the coup. Check out the Jack Lemon film MISSING. Then a US citizen, Ronnie Moffet who was an assistant to Leitelier was murdered by a bomb planted by US affiliated operatives and a US citizen in Washington DC. Then under Reagan, Ben Linder, a US citizen who was working as a civil engineer in Nicaragua was murdered by the Contras on the orders of the CIA. Then there is the CIA bombing of the press conference of Eden Pastora in Nicaragua which severly injured many US journalists who were covering that press briefing. I like most thought that the Sandinistas had done it, until it came out that it was the CIA who had planted the bomb because Pastora hated the others in the Contra movement and refused to work with the thugs. Speaking of thugs, all you have to do is to look at your buddies on the right who are well experienced with murders from the Cuban exiles who murdered any persons who disagreed with them.

    Then before WWII, there were the labor wars in which companies and corrupt judges, sheriffs, and cops routinely jailed union members. The West Virginia coal wars and in Colorado in which law enforcement person who tried to enforce the law were executed. In West Virginia, one sheriff was forced to appear in the neighboring county, and he was executed on the court house steps and the local sheriff who was the paid agent of the coal companies refused to arrest the murderers. I suggest you do some research about US labor history which is where most of the crimes were committed. Then we have the cases during WWI, in which people were sent to prison for voicing criticism in a letter to the editor of the capitalist system. That person did seven years. Eugene Debs of course went to prison for being opposed to aspects of WWI. In Texas it was illegal to speak German and any law enforcement officer would send a person to prison for doing so. During WWII, The Militant was banned for printing the truth about some of the abuses of many of the government contractors. The crime was in telling the truth, but no person went to prison for that one at least since Truman as a Sen. headed a commission to investigate similar charges. I think you need to do some serious reading and learning.

  51. randyjet wrote: “I think you need to do some serious reading and learning.”

    We were talking about Nixon, and here you go all over the map including a person murdered by a white supremacist and another person killed while living in war zone in another country. You mention only one person you claim was ordered killed by Nixon. Can you at least provide a link to the declassified kill memo for me? I’m skeptical. Why do you believe it? And I’m still waiting for info on the political prisoners of Nixon.

  52. davidm You were NOT only talking about Nixon since you asked about political prisoners and murders in the USA that were government sanctioned or ordered. I doubt that Nixon got or made kill orders for specific persons. HE did authorize the agencies to do any actions that they thought appropriate including killing US citizens who were politically inconvenient. With the exception of Bin Laden, I doubt Obama does that either. I recall Obama even said in the debates with Clinton and McCain that he would order an attack anywhere in the world, especially Pakistan if he was there. This is in contrast to W Bush who said on nationwide TV that he did not much care any more about Bin Laden. I wonder why YOU did not come out of your seat as I did when I heard that weak kneed coward say that.

    The FACT is that as the HMFIC, Nixon is responsible for the actions of his subordinates. Or as Truman used to say, the BUCK stops here. Of course, I have yet to hear a GOP major figure say such a thing. In fact, I have never heard even a CEO say that with few exceptions, and in fact most of them don’t bother taking the oaths they sign as to the accuracy of their corporate statement seriously either. I do hold Obama responsible for the drone attacks as he also does. I support his actions in this regards as well. I only wish that they would make more sure that bombs are not being wasted on the undeserving.

  53. “I thought I would read The Burglary for a few minutes while I waited for my plane to take off. Six hours later my eyes had not left the pages…It is astonishingly good, marvelously written…It’s a masterpiece.”

    – Dan Ellsberg, military analyst who made the Pentagon Papers public

    http://www.theburglary.com/

  54. randyjet a.k.a. Arthur Randolf Erb,

    Dredd … My e-mail is randyjet, and that is why sometimes my posts come up with either name. I think that most folks here know me by both names.
    —————–
    … the FACT is that suspending the writ of habeas corpus is a part of the US Constitution in case of invasion or civil insurrection.
    ==============================
    Ok guys.

    The problem is that the text contemplate an invasion by a foreign nation, or a civil insurrection by domestic enemies.

    That does not apply when we invade foreign nations, or when the neoCon domestic enemies of the constitution cause civil insurrection.

    Besides, suspending the writ of habeas corpus does not suspend the other 99% of the constitution.

  55. randyjet wrote: “You were NOT only talking about Nixon since you asked about political prisoners and murders in the USA that were government sanctioned or ordered. I doubt that Nixon got or made kill orders for specific persons.”

    Finally, we are back on earth with both feet firmly planted.

    Your original post led me to think you personally had knowledge that I lacked. Now we seem to be on the same page of history. Thank you.

    Here was your original post:
    ======================
    Since I and others who I know personally were the targets of Nixon’s illegal activities, you are woefully ignorant of the full extent of his criminal actions. Then there is his statement that if the President orders it, it is legal which is FAR beyond anything that some accuse Obama of doing. Nixon was worse since he ordered or allowed the murder of US citizens who were not engaged in any illegal acts against the US or acts of violence. At least the persons who have been killed overseas were clearly outside all laws and were engaged in violent warfare against the US. As I pointed out earlier, if the US kills any Muslim students on spring break enjoying the beaches in Afghanistan, Yemen, or Pakistan, THEN I most certainly will join the chorus denouncing such killings.

    If you can find similar actions of Obama getting people fired from their jobs for their political views, getting records of bank accounts illegally, sending the IRS against his opponents, breaking and entering residences, burglary, theft, illegal wire taps, attempted and actual murder in the US of US citizens, and many other criminal activities, THEN you might have a point. In fact, the US is a FAR freer country now than when I was growing up and for much of my adult life. THAT is why there is no such outcry against Obama since I and millions of others DO remember the reality of those bad old days. In short, GIVE US A BREAK when you call Nixon not as bad as the current situation.
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    And hours later you mentioned Civil Rights movement and Vietnam which basically culminated with Nixon.
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    I DO remember the McCarthy era, and during Vietnam when there were massive violations of freedoms. Then since you were obviously not involved in the Civil Rights movement, you have no memory of the state sponsored murders, mass incarcerations, and state sponsored terrorism that is FAR worse than ANYTHING we have now. There are so many daily items of oppression that were a fact of life back then that I do not have time to list all of them. In fact, compared to back then, we are FAR better off. While I disagree with most of the state snooping being done, it is relatively benign compared to the past when a person would be sent to prison for their politics and lawful activity. In many states the authorities were free to murder their political opponents and did. When you can show me a similar plethora of crimes on the part of the states or government, then I and most Americans will do what is needed.
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    Although I still don’t know what you really had in mind when you wrote these things, I am satisfied with your more recent post that I am not missing some important knowledge of history here.

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