Bad Signals

Posted by sepoy on December 20, 2005 · 5 mins read
Q: I wanted to ask you a question. Do you think the government has the right to break the law?

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Absolutely not. I don't believe anyone is above the law.

Q: You have stretched this resolution for war into giving you carte blanche to do anything you want to do.

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Well, one might make that same argument in connection with detention of American citizens, which is far more intrusive than listening into a conversation. There may be some members of Congress who might say, we never --

Q: That's your interpretation. That isn't Congress' interpretation.

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Well, I'm just giving you the analysis --

Q: You're never supposed to spy on Americans.

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: I'm just giving the analysis used by Justice O'Connor -- and she said clearly and unmistakenly the Congress authorized the President of the United States to detain an American citizen, even though the authorization to use force never mentions the word "detention" --

Q: -- into wiretapping everybody and listening in on --

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: This is not about wiretapping everyone. This is a very concentrated, very limited program focused at gaining information about our enemy.

Q: Now that the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, do you expect your legal analysis to be tested in the courts?

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: I'm not going to, you know, try to guess as to what's going to happen about that. We're going to continue to try to educate the American people and the American Congress about what we're doing and the basis -- why we believe that the President has the authority to engage in this kind of conduct. - [source]

The vice president also told reporters that in his view, presidential authority has been eroded since the 1970s through laws such as the War Powers Act and anti-impoundment laws.

"Watergate and a lot of the things around Watergate and Vietnam both during the '70s served, I think, to erode the authority I think the president needs to be effective, especially in the national security area," Cheney said. But he also said the administration has been able to restore some of "the legitimate authority of the presidency."

Cheney said the White House helped protect presidential power by fighting to keep secret the list of people who were a part of his 2001 energy task force. The task force's activities attracted complaints from environmentalists, who said they were shut out of discussions on developing a national energy policy while corporate interests were present. A protracted lawsuit ensued.

"I believe that the president is entitled and needs to have unfiltered advice in formulating policy," Cheney said. "He ought to be able to seek the opinion of anybody he wants to and that he should not have to reveal, for example, who he talked to that morning. That issue was litigated all the way up to the Supreme Court and we won."

Cheney said that "many people believe" the War Powers Act, enhancing the power of Congress to share in executive branch decision-making on war, is unconstitutional and said "it will be tested at some point. I am one of those who believe that was an infringement on the authority of the president." - [source]

Today we are facing extreme and most dangerous developments of this paradigm of security. In the course of a gradual neutralisation of politics and the progressive surrender of traditional tasks of the state, security imposes itself as the basic principle of state activity. What used to be one among several decisive measures of public administration until the first half of the twentieth century, now becomes the sole criterion of political legitimation. Security reasoning entails an essential risk. A state which has security as its only task and source of legitimacy is a fragile organism; it can always be provoked by terrorism to turn itself terroristic. - [source]

Only brown people will continue to be harmed in the making of this movie, right?