Friday, January 19, 2007

The Constitution - down the rabbit hole

Houston Chronicle

Gonzales balks at providing details on wiretapping plans

Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., was taken aback when Gonzales wouldn't commit to turning over the FISA order spelling out the domestic wiretapping program.

"Are you saying that you might object to the court giving us a decision that you publicly announced," asked Leahy. "Are we in Alice in Wonderland here?"

Gonzales responded that release of the order was "not my decision to make." He added that "there is going to be information about operational details about how we're doing this that we want to keep confidential." The presiding judge of the FISA wrote Leahy that she had no problem giving the lawmakers the order if the administration signed off.

And from Robert Parry:

Responding to questions from Sen. Arlen Specter at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Jan. 18, Gonzales argued that the Constitution doesn't explicitly bestow habeas corpus rights; it merely says when the so-called Great Writ can be suspended.

"There is no expressed grant of habeas in the Constitution; there's a prohibition against taking it away," Gonzales said.

Gonzales's remark left Specter, the committee's ranking Republican, stammering.

"Wait a minute," Specter interjected. "The Constitution says you can't take it away except in case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus unless there's a rebellion or invasion?"

Gonzales continued, "The Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say that. It simply says the right shall not be suspended" except in cases of rebellion or invasion.

Whata buncha double-talkin' bullshit criminal-servin' lawyer-speak!

"You may be treading on your interdiction of violating common sense," Specter said.

While Gonzales's statement has a measure of quibbling precision to it, his logic is troubling because it would suggest that many other fundamental rights that Americans hold dear also don't exist because the Constitution often spells out those rights in the negative.

Applying Gonzales's reasoning, one could argue that the First Amendment doesn't explicitly say Americans have the right to worship as they choose, speak as they wish or assemble peacefully. The amendment simply bars the government, i.e. Congress, from passing laws that would impinge on these rights.

Gee, I ain't no stinkin' Bush-blowin' shyster, but it seems to me that if they can't take away certain rights, then we have those rights to begin with.

Gonzales's Jan. 18 statement suggests that he is still seeking reasons to make habeas corpus optional, subordinate to President George W. Bush's executive powers that Bush's neoconservative legal advisers claim are virtually unlimited during "a time of war," even one as vaguely defined as the "war on terror" which may last forever.

There are a multitude of reasons to think that Bush and advisers will interpret every legal ambiguity in the new law in their favor, thus granting Bush the broadest possible powers over people he identifies as enemies.

As further evidence of that, the American people now know that Attorney General Gonzales doesn't even believe that the Constitution grants them habeas corpus rights to a fair trial.

There's that 'goddam piece of paper' again, specifically the 6th Amendment. Now we know exactly what the framers were protecting us from: Bush.

Yo, Alberto, take Bush's little pecker out once in a while so you can brush your teeth.

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