All the Residentís Men
   by Christian Livemore

"Necessity is the argument of tyrants. It is the creed of slaves."
- William Pitt, Speech on the India Bill, 1783

The Bush Administration is moving forward with its plans for a nationwide
citizen tipster network, despite passage in the House on Friday of the
Homeland Security bill, which includes a specific ban on the program.

Several other worrisome measures have been instituted since Governor
Bush assumed power that, taken together, paint a deeply unsettling
picture of the direction we may all be headed.

On July 12, the Secret Service detained a White House reporter for
questioning when he asked Ari Fleischer questions that Fleischer did not like.

Earlier in the year, Attorney General John Ashcroft issued a memo to all
employees of the Justice Department instructing them to resist all requests
for information and documentation made under the Freedom of Information Act.

And immediately after he took office, Bush used executive privilege to prevent
the release of presidential papers of Ronald Reagan, which were scheduled to
be released in January 2001 under the Freedom of Information Act, which seems
to be a kind of kryptonite to the Bush Administration.

"The administration is continuing to pursue Operation TIPS. Weíre continuing
with that course of action," said Barbara Comstock, spokeswoman for Attorney
General John Ashcroft, on Friday. "We believe the program represents an
important resource and that itís been misrepresented to date."

So the Bush Administration seems to have decided that they, not the Congress
and not the people, are the sole arbiters of what is best for the United States.
This is especially odd considering that Bush is the same man who campaigned
on the credo, "I trust the people" and that the Republican Party claims to cherish
above all else the principles of statesí rights and personal freedom.
That government is not the solution, but rather the problem.

No doubt Former Governor Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft would
cite necessity as their reason for defying a direct Congressional ban.

Operation TIPS (Terrorism Information and Prevention System) intends to
recruit American citizens to report "suspicious" activities they observe. Among
the types of people the government wants to recruit are bus drivers, utility meter
readers, and mail carriers.

Is there a Mosque near the corner where your bus driver drops you?
Watch out, olí Ralph the bus driver has his eye on you. Got a letter from your
cousin whoís touring the pyramids in Egypt? Your mail carrier may report you
for receiving terrorist literature. For that matter, youíd better hope youíre on
good terms with Jim next door. If your dog keeps him up at night with his
barking, olí Jim might report you out of spite. "Iím not positive, Mr. FBI man,
but I think I saw an Arab man leaving my neighborís house yesterday.
Yes, that house right there. The one with the dog barking outside."

It is important to note that the Representative responsible for inserting the ban
was not Tom Daschle or Paul Wellstone or any of the other liberal democrats
that Bush, Ashcroft and the rest of the bunch like to blame when they donít get
their own way. It is one of their own, House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

Armeyís reason? "To ensure that no operation of the department can be
construed to promote citizens spying on one another."

Armey must have taken a look at the Constitution lately. "The right of the people
to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable
searches and seizures, shall not be violatedÖ" U.S. Constitution, Fourth Amendment

I know what youíre thinking. Itís only one little program. Everybody has to give up
a little something if we want to defeat terrorism.

Well, itís quote day, and hereís another fun one to know and share, this time from
Ben Franklin: "They that can give up essential liberty to achieve temporary safety
deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Franklin knew that we lose our freedom a little at a time. One minute we allow the
Constitution to be ignored for "the good of the country," and the next thing you know
weíre pigging out on Thanksgiving turkey while somebody steals a presidential election,
and weíre happy to give in to taunts of "Get over it" and "Sore Loserman."

The Bush administration has also appointed a large number of officials who served
under his father and Ronald Reagan. Most prominent among these of course are
Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell. Several others of
these appointees have alarming connections to the Iran Contra scandel, most notably
John Poindexter, Elliot Abrams, John Negroponte and Otto Reich.

In January 2002, Bush appointed Poindexter Director of the Pengatonís Information
Awareness Office (IAO). Poindexter, youíll remember, instructed Oliver North to lie
to Congress about their arms for hostages dealings.

The reason Poindexterís appointment in particular is so worrisome is slightly complicated.

Ronald Reagan issued several executive orders to pave the way for his plan to invade
Nicaragua. They included orders, which can be found at The Federal Register of
Executive Orders at www.archives.gov, providing for suspension of the Constitution
and imposing martial law, and granted the Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) broad powers in the case of a crisis such as "violent and widespread internal
dissent or national opposition against a U.S. military invasion abroad."

FEMA is now one of the federal agencies set to come under control of the new Office
of Homeland Security. In January, the Pentagon, where Poindexter is currently assigned,
requested the authority to deploy military troops for domestic law enforcement duties.
Bush and Tom Ridge, Director of Homeland Security, have advocated the use of these
troops.

The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prohibits such use of military troops. However, a clause
in Section 15 states that such force may be used if "expressly authorized by the Constitution
or by act of Congress." The Homeland Security Act, with its inclusion of FEMA under its
roof and the emergency powers granted that organization by Reaganís executive orders,
could be argued to constitute the act of Congress Bush would need to invoke such use
of troops. And with the Supreme Court, such use might stand up to a court challenge.

So we are now in a situation where Bush could invade Iraq, and if the public tries to
exercise its lawful First Amendment right of freedom of assembly to protest, Bush could
use U.S. military troops to arrest the protestors. And if the press writes about it, he can
throw them in jail, too.

But letís get back to the appointees.

Elliot Abrams pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of lying to Congress about the
Reagan Administration's Contra program and received one of Bush Sr.ís Christmas Eve
pardons that shut down Independent Council Lawrence Walshís investigation. Abrams
is now serving as the National Security Council's senior director for democracy, human
rights and international operations.

Otto Reich, now assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs, headed up
under Reagan something called, in true Orwellian newspeak, the Office of Public Diplomacy,
a propaganda department in the State Department that was staffed with CIA and Pentagon
"psychological warfare" specialists and reported to Ė guess who? -- Oliver North.

The departmentís mission, according to "Foreign Policy In Focus," was to "mislead the
American public by disseminating false information, discrediting reporters whose work
the Reagan administration did not like, and exploiting other propaganda tactics normally
used to confuse and manipulate the populations of enemy countries." The Office of
Public Diplomacy was later found to be illegal and shut down.

This mission statement sounds eerily similar to one former Governor Bush recently
proposed to provide false news stories to overseas press outlets to aid in the war on terror.

And Iíve saved arguably the best for last.

John Negroponte. As U.S. ambassador to Honduras under Reagan, Negroponte helped
to prosecute the Contra war against Nicaragua and helped strengthen the military dictatorship
in Honduras, which was, according to "Foreign Policy In Focus," "both a close ally of the
Reagan administration and was disappearing dozens of political opponents in classic death
squad fashion." Reagan removed Ambassador Jack Binns when Binns urged Washington
to stop the killings and appointed in his place Negroponte, who let the killings continue.
Negroponte is now U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

I bet they seat Negroponte and the Ambassador from Nicaragua really far apart.

Now. I told you those stories so I could tell you this one.

The details of these appointments may explain why Bush used executive privilege to seal
Reaganís presidential papers.

A lawsuit brought by Public Citizen on behalf of several historical organizations finally
forced the release of approximately 58, 850 pages. But 150 pages remain "under review"
by Bush administration officials. The pages reportedly contain "deliberations about potential
appointees to public office," perhaps appointees like Poindexter, Abrams et al. The White
House will not say whether the 150 pages being withheld will ever be released to the public.

It is impossible not to draw a parallel between the 150 pages in question and the 18 minutes
erased from the Nixon tapes when the Supreme Court struck down Nixonís claim of executive
privilege and ordered him to turn the tapes over to Congress.

Out of over 60,000 pages of Reaganís papers, what is in those 150 pages that the Bush
Administration does not want us to see?

And (while this is total speculation) this Reagan papers debacle may partly answer the question so
many folks have been asking since Election 2000. "Why steal this election? Why this one in particular?"

Given evidence gathered by the NAACP of widespread vote-rigging and voter fraud in Florida,
Tennessee, Georgia and Missouri, it does appear that the Bush family was prepared to install
Bush in the White House at all costs. If whatever those 150 pages of the Reagan papers contain
that Bush so desperately does not want us to see has to do with his fatherís dealings as Vice
President and later President, their scheduled release just as the new president was set to take
office would be ample motive to steal an election.

Letís assume for a moment that the Bush Administration has only pure motives for these
transgressions against our personal liberties (forgetting the lengths to which they went to achieve
victory in Florida). Once these laws are on the books, they can be used for a sinister purpose
perhaps not originally intended.

William Pitt knew that when tyrants want to take away our freedoms, they claim itís necessary
to preserve the public safety. One minute youíre dancing Ďtil dawn and driving home on
militia-free streets; before you know it, you have to obtain a pass from the Komandant to visit
your grandma in Des Moines.

Since he took office, Bush has put in place the machinery to effect a complete takeover of the
U.S. government. And the Democrats in Congress are just watching it happen.

You hear that noise?
Thatís the sound of the Honorable Mr. Pitt rolling in his grave.
 
 

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