Category Archives: Constitution

Ten Questions for John Brennan, and his Senatorial Confirmers.

Ten Questions for John Brennan, and his Senatorial Confirmers.

1.  How effective has congressional oversight functioned with the CIA? <br>
2. The Church Commission required an FBI Director be confirmed every decade, and this was not done with FBI Director Mueller.  Why?  Is periodic confirmation of ANY spy/surveillance/investigative agency a good idea in light of the Church Commission findings? <br>
3.According to Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and Wm Arkin in their Top Secret America report, there are 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies engaged in security work similar or associated with the CIA.   Who has oversight?  Who confirms their directors and directions and budgets, and how frequently?   What is the aggregate cost… and why is this budget “black”?
4. Senator Ron Wyden’s question as I roughly recall:  If our government decides to kill a citizen, does it supply a courtesy call as to why?   And who, apart from the President and those in his chain of command selects and approves these assassinations?
5. Is there concern about assassinations in other countries by US agents without the constitutionally required letter of Marque and Reprisal granted by the Congress (not the executive branch)?  If not, why?
6.Who, if anyone in government, is concerned about going to war without a declaration, as required by the constitution?   What is the significance of the oath or affirmation that office holders and service personnel take to preserve and protect the constitution?    Does that refer to the physical object, or the  meaning of the words contained in it?  (trying to keep my questions light, like Sn. Wyden.)
7. What has been the cost to the United States of fighting famous CIA alumnus such as Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Manuel Noriega, in lives and money, not to mention opportunity cost?   What has been the cost of conflicts with lesser known alums.   Any idea of ongoing and future costs?   Who monitors the fallout of the 1,271 government, and 1,931 private agencies?…. or is this as I fear, divided between numerous Congressional committees fighting for turf.  Who gains by this disorganization?
8. The drone boom is currently a lucrative area of development when there are few opportunities in this post crash economy.   How long before drones will, as all inventions do, return upon the United States, both government and civil society.   How long will these new threats harm our country?     Is our collective investment in this in the long term security interest of the US, or like the H bomb, a moral albatross which will fester in time?   Is this the security job equivalent to a self licking ice cream cone?
9. If a declaration of war were to be written,  to  provide an outline of what victory might look like, is short, what we want….. what would it say?
10. Since this is the intelligence committee, and while great expense is proffered surveilling the wide world, and yet because of our disjointed economy, banks and hedge funds are selling great swaths of America overseas.    Is this intelligent?  In the national interest?

The King Clause

Bravely,  Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and some folks back home gave the world a new and remarkable form of government:  A constitutional democratic republic.   The constitution replaced the King, and all that was required was a revolution and that the people of the United States honor their word.

Actually, this constitution took a lot of defending from threats on many levels.  There was the war of 1812, and the crash and panic 1792 and the collapse of the first United States Bank that Hamilton championed.  The panic of 1819 and the collapse of the second United States Bank.  The panic of 1857 and the civil war that followed within the decade, not to speak of political upheavals like the whisky rebellion and disenfranchisement of various political parties, parties you never learned about in your civics courses,  now long forgotten.   All these actions were to save us from the torture and executions that a King could order at will.   Kings of old would initiate wars or seize an enemies property, or execute a citizen on his own authority.    A constitution protected the people of the United States against such acts of whimsy.   At least till now.

Some say the Magna Carta saved English subjects from such whimsy.  Tell that to Henry the VIII.   Tell that to Chief Justice John Roberts; who orchestrated the People’s United decision that says money is speech and corporations are persons.

To note the watershed, the difference between kings ordering by fiat, and free men (and women) living under their own law, the framers inserted the king clause into the constitution which reads (Only)” Congress shall have the power…. to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, or make rules concerning captures on land and water.”

The King Clause of the constitution has three parts: authorizing war, authorizing private contractors to kill and seize, and controlling rules of military capture.

This clear language makes a significant break with the previous royal form of government.  The Congress (whose etymology means ‘stands upright’) not an individual, has the power to engage the country in a war.   The president is not a king, in fact the title is derived from the verb: “preside” meaning guidance and literally meaning to sit in front, sedere: sit;  pre, in front.  It was understood that war was not an informal thing, but needed a reason, and a demand….. thus it could be drawn to conclusion when the demand was met.    The founders had watched such inanities as the 30 years war, and the hundred years war because of such a lack of focus.   The United States has seen the same with its decadal wars in  Viet Nam and Afghanistan….  where no reason was given, and no demand proffered that the People of the United States stood behind.   With no goal, it is impossible to find the victory of achieving it.

This was the reason for the first part, the declaration of war has two functions a) to announce a clear set of demands, and b) to see that the American people are behind those demands.     It must be noted that whenever these conditions have been met, the United States has been victorious; and these conditions have not transpired in the last 65 years.

Actually war is still not an informal thing… people do not say to themselves: “Dang, I wonder who is dropping bombs on us today?”   As accustomed as we are to having murder brought into our living rooms nightly by the TV, and we are all conditioned to accept it a normal… the question “Who is shooting at me?” is not of the same emotional caliber as in watching a whodunit.

The second part of the King Clause makes Congress responsible for “granting letters of Marque and Reprisal,” or  what was considered at the time of writing: A pirate’s license.    A pirate was someone sailing a private vessel who seized property of a foreign vessel and likely killed people in so doing.   Once granted a letter of Marque  and Reprisal, the captain in possession of such could attack, seize and in the process, kill persons of the country or counties listed in the letter.   (Such a letter would not allow the killing of an American citizen.)  In short, such a letter was grant of limited power to violate the sovereignty of the nation listed within it.

The third portion of the King Clause, makes it clear that it is the American people that will subjugate any foreign people, and will themselves determine the conditions of that.   This was seen as a power so grave as not to be allowed to be deferred to a mere administrator.

It is worth pointing out that of the founders who created this ‘new’ form of government, many were familiar with the classics, and more than a few read Greek.   While the Greeks did have slaves, they brought their slaves to the theater, and indeed treated them well.  For the Greeks lived in a city-state environment, where there were periodic wars and border skirmishes, and while  your city  may have won this year,  the city next door may win the next, and who won took slaves.   Thus it was wise to treat the slaves with some respect,  for there was a live possibility that the next slave holder would be the very slave you had held, and you in turn would be in captivity.    This trained the populous in the evenhandedness that is such a requirement for democracy to flourish.     A point profoundly forgotten in today’s ‘winner take all’ politics.

Thus the King Clause was made part of the constitution to prohibit a King from whimsically taking rule, and killing whatever opposition arose.   It is the Law.

If only people could honor their own oath;  their word.

The Administration and the CIA versus the Constitution

As John Brennan is considered for confirmation by the US Senate, Eleven senators including both Oregon senators have raised the simple question: “If the United States targets a US citizen to be killed, does that person merit being notified as to why?”

Bizarre! In a country ruled by a constitution which states that a person cannot be deprived of life liberty or property without due process of law. ….. this question is asked by a Senator to a drone assassination champion who has supported or overseen over 2,700 people killed in three countries in which we are not at war, including 200 children. These are the minimum numbers as reported by the British: Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

If this were Kabuki, what masks would they be wearing in this senate hearing… The supporters, the CIA ‘leader’, the questioners?

“We are at war with terror.” says the drone champion Brennan.  ” I support rendition and now banned interrogation techniques. I have strongly advocated public discussion of thresholds and limitations of CIA authority in this. (really ?) A trust deficit with this committee is wholly unacceptable to me.

The CIA will do all it can to protect Americas secrets, Americas classified information. The CIA indicates 103 deaths of CIA agents. ”

The above was my ragged shorthand from the confirmation hearing today.

According the Federation of American Scientists there are somewhere between 4.2 and 4.8  million Americans with security clearances.

According to Dana Priest and the Top Secret America project of the Washington Post: “(1) Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States. (2) An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances. ”

“(4) Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks. (5) Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year – a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.”

I ask the discriminating reader this question:  If the congress  usually has very little oversight of the CIA ,  as Senator Murkowski said, and its only power to influence it is Now, during a confirmation hearing….. what oversight does the American People have over the ” 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies ” listed above?   Who cuts their checks?,  who directs their directors? *

In short, and you can quote me….. “You are being protected by a genuine self-breeding cluster fuck.” …. suffering from too many resources and resulting in too much overlapping confusion. ___ David Bean.   Many duplications are seeking to solve the problem and none are looking to find the source of it if you ask me. (hint: it is not a personality… second hint: ask Pogo.^)  As stated elsewhere, a war on a tactic can never find its end.

The world has changed.   We have got what we worked for these many years…. magnificent productivity.  Yet we are stuck thinking we are in the old world and people want our stuff.  We are locked in the past in our own minds.   Like peoples through the centuries, all people do not want to me messed with. As we screw them more and more with our “security” procedures and assassination drones is there any wonder they fight back? Isn’t ten years fighting goatherds on the other side of the planet in stark mountains with a population with an illiteracy rate of 70% an indication of misspent resources? ” We have the technology…. why not use it?” say the consultants. They are paid well… as are the drone makers. America has been captured by our own tools.

Well, from my observation of the hearing, Brennan is a shoe in. Yes Sir, Gumby. A shoo in.

Here is my concern. Leon Panetta, a budget wizard, has been the head of the CIA and Defense,  and he is stepping down. He has not, nor has the President, in my humble opinion, been in charge of either. They grow exponentially as exemplified by the drone boom.  It is a pathology that  I believe will come home to bite us, and perhaps destroy our civilization. I have no opinion about  what motivates the current President who now operates a kill list. I do not believe he is a good administrator, as evinced by the burgeoning security state, the  consequent budget hole it, the military and the militarized CIA create. That the press and the parties can only discuss social security and cutting entitlements  without addressing this mammoth fiscal hemorrhage is an example inability to prioritize.

NOW is the time for congress, and the people telling congress….. Get a Grip! Rare it is to have a handle to comment on our national secret police. We are captives of our own technology and it will impoverish us. … in security and in health. We have to say No to ourselves, to the technological equivalent to “I believe I want to investigate myself.”… and we cannot seem to say “no” to technology.   How about cutting our spook agencies to a mere thousand, and top secret spooks to a mere hundred thousand. Even that may be too many to keep track of.

Thus my plea to you to write your senator, your congressman. Do not confirm Brennan for CIA Director. To do so would implicitly support drone assassinations, which are lawless.   Tell your congressman to get a grip on self breeding security agencies.

* constitutional note: Letters of Marque and Reprisal.  Readers of this blog may recall my emphasis on the King Clause of the constitution.   It reads:” (only) The Congress shall have the power to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water. ”  (It is called the King Clause because if not observed, we have a king with fiat rule over all of us.)   Not well taught in school is what is that danged letter of marque and reprisal.   Here is the scoop:  It is a Pirate’s License.

Today we would call it a Private Contractor’s License, a license to kill on the authority of the People of the United States.   That power is only granted to the congress….. and is not granted to either the executive branch (the President, CIA,   FBI, NSA et all) nor the judicial branch.

This King Clause makes it explicit that only representatives of our people can kill and really piss off their people.   Not agents of the President on his own initiative. Thus saving us, in theory,  from the innumerable idiotic wars that our founders observed being started by irascible kings.

Whatever say the eloquent and well endowed constitutional lawyers, including the one that currently runs a kill list in our name… the words of the constitution are written for you, citizen, to grasp and understand.   The King Clause can be found in Article I, Section 8, clause 11.      Let your own intelligence decide, for together we stand,  if we defer to the experts (who inevitably quote statute and not the constitution) we will find ourselves divided and sold off to the highest bidder.

^ the cartoon character Pogo in the midst of the Viet Nam War famously said :  “We have met the enemy, and they is us.”  (The Gulf of Tonkin incident which gravely escalated that war was consequence of a ‘radar shadow’, i. e. electronic feedback from our own equipment.)

Myths… True or False?

There is a foolishness within the human being.  Either it is played out in drama as in myths of those so imperfect gods like those of the Greeks, or it plays out in our parodies of myth,   political myth,  which we find manifested as untruths that citizens  choke down grave-faced.    The first can lead to a great belly laugh.   The latter in time, to war.

Gary Hart recently wrote:

Myths play a central role as metaphor in many world religions, according to Joseph Campbell. In The Hero With a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth he studied the world mythologies, found common themes in a wide variety of cultures, and reached a startling conclusion: myths, he said, come from dreams and, therefore, people around the world have common dreams. It is a profound and still controversial insight for religion, psychology, and human culture. Students in all these fields continue to consider the power of myth.

Myths in politics, however, play a much different role. “Widely held but false idea” is one dictionary definition of myth in common usage. For reasons that are still unclear, myths abound in recent American political history. Perhaps the most glaring and consequential was the myth that Iraq under Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

There are other cases in point. Barack Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya and therefore not an American citizen. These are myths, yet they are widely believed in certain circles. Poor people are poor by choice. A classic myth. A rising tide lifts all boats. Much more true when we were an industrial society and manufacturing products created jobs. Much less true when the economic tide is one of finance and money manipulation which lifts the gilded yachts but not the rowboats of the rest of us. Jobs are not created when crackpot financial schemes make hedge fund managers rich. Thus, a myth.

Myths in politics are dangerous. In an important speech at Yale University during the Cold War, John Kennedy said:

“For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived, and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

He was speaking of the myths on both sides that perpetuated a Cold War in a dangerous way.

Exactly 50 years later, no assessment comes closer to describing much of our current political world. Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth.

If this strange world were the product of mere laziness it might be understandable. But today’s political myths are more perverse. They are a conscious hiding place from a changing, challenging, and often uncomfortable new world. Globalization, immigration, cultural and racial diversity are threatening and frightening to many who wish to freeze the former comfortable world in time and prevent any change.

Myths which have no basis in truth, or which do not operate as metaphors for religious truth, eventually fade away with the passing of those who perpetuate them and in the face of reality and fact. But the most dangerous myths create demons where none exist, the demons being anyone who disagrees with the myth-makers. In the meantime, however, they serve not only to delude the deniers but to frustrate our Founders’ belief in the progress of the human mind.

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David adds,  Citizens who expect to be informed for free, on the largesse of the commercial interests are bound to find themselves in a pool of opinion and unsubstantiated so called facts.  A society that cannot agree on facts, or whose facts do not correspond with reality is indication of being within political myth. Only by funding and protecting reporters with the citizen’s interest in mind, will the ‘freedom of the press’ guaranteed by the constitution be more than a vacant promise.   Freedom of the commercial press is what we have today, and as any schoolboy can see, that does not result in freedom, but ongoing war.

I am developing a list of political myths…   please send me your ideas.
both those that go down, nice and smooth,  and those that stick in your craw.
Thanks

The Cheating Culture

The Cheating Culture is a website and book by David Callahan, and the following podcast outlays the depth of of the Kim Chee

download the Cheating Culture podcast

General Strip-Search, are you secure?

I encountered two young veterans last week, as hot about the current violation of national security as I am.  They too remember taking the oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States.  In all sobriety, I suggest the Supreme Court is forgetting that oath.   Last week’s news provides an example.

The Supreme Court rendered a judgement  in Florence v Burlington that it is OK to strip-search a person if they find themselves in prison, even if by mistake.   The Supreme Court decided that prison regulations trump the constitution in the above case, of a black man who was riding as a passenger in his wife’s BMW and the police  computer erroneously said he had a warrant out for his arrest, when he had already paid the traffic fine.

The judgement is pertinent in the context of the Occupy movement this spring  with many people seeking to assemble and petition their government for redress of grievances.   Those people are being intimidated by the law that they may be strip searched for engaging their first amendment rights.

The fourth amendment,  is explicit: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

It guarantees the right of someone, anyone, to be secure “in their person” from search unless served with a search warrant, signed by a judge naming whom is to be searched, and for what particular things, and stating the probable cause.  The founders included this to prohibit mass intimidation by any agency of law.   I pray you can get this very meaning from the words of the fourth amendment quoted above.  I hope you can commit those words to memory.  It could save you.

I believe that We the People can put these things together; we stand up to the Supreme Court and say:  “Black is not White!”    The people are not secure if they can be strip-searched for whimsy, or by mistake, and without probable cause.   The fourth amendment says as much!

I write this because I want people,  We the People, who give consent and tax money to be governed, to indeed be governed according to law of the land, the constitution as Article VI states.  (Not the law of some institution, be it the Burlington prison or the park service).  I write this so that we can know, and state our rights.   For if we do not stand up for them, they will go away…. as they seem to be doing, with judicial sanction before our eyes.

I refer you to the previous post if you have not read it.  It concerns the legal case, again before the Supreme Court in which President Obama wants a brand new power to be granted to the government, namely to compel people to make a purchase from a private company.    For one to read and understand the constitution, this seems an open and shut case, an argument I made.  But if we all sit back and expect the “experts” to decide, we are going the way of the Reichstag in the 1930’s.   The Germans are not, nor were they, a flippant people.  But by relinquishing their authority to the ‘experts’ they succumbed to a very dark leadership.

Hence, I ask that you write your paper, your Senator and mention to your friends the document that was begun with the words We,  is being countermanded by justices who took an oath to protect it.

The Law in Plain English, The Tenth Amendment and Obama’s Health Care Case

Is the health insurance mandate constitutional?

‘The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.’

____ Tenth Amendment.     The US Constitution is clear as crystal.

I know the constitution, you may not; so let me simply explain: Health is not mentioned once and commerce only twice in the entire constitution, and each time it is about regulating commerce…  not mandating it.

If the Supreme Court were doing its job, it would have said as much.

Best to recall the words of Benjamin Franklin:    “A countryman between two lawyers, is like a fish between two cats.”

…and that, my fellow countrymen, is all there is.  The constitution does not compel purchases; nor will it.

The Business Model

I am with with the many who agree that to make money off of sick people is immoral.  To profit from sickness is itself sick.  You can make a living serving the sick, but not a killing.  That is our current format, called the business model.   Most counties including the 40 or more that are listed as better than ours in health care results, provide health care on the service model, not the business model.   You can seek out this information by searching ‘health care’ and OECD,  or  WHO.

The Service Model 

Providing health care on the service model in contrast to  the current business model would cut costs nearly in half.   What looks to you and me as cost centers if we are patients, are seen as profit centers, or at least competitive overhead by the health care business.   Look at what profit/cost centers would simply go away if we decided to select the service model for our health care:  Insurance profit, insurance marketing, large secretarial  and legal staff’s to deal with insurance denial/compliance/appeal/judgement and malpractice.  The equally huge secretarial offices in every medical clinic.  Gone would be pharmaceutical marketing and huge patent premiums that result from the intent to make money more than saving lives. Universities and foundations would still do research.  The motive would be to save lives though, not to ‘make a killing’.  The main thing that would be removed is the confusion of having all these systems, and the errors bread of that confusion.  Getting personal; the time lost  from this bureaucratic confusion, harms the patients physically, in my opinion, even worse than the costs which are humungous.  These costs are making the US uncompetitive on the world market.  Why?   Nearly twenty cents of every dollar we spend goes into this grinder.    This change would put nearly a dime into your pocket for every dollar spent.

In short, the health mandate is unconstitutional on its face.  The business model for health care is uncompetitive and morally corrupting and that expense cannot be ignored for it prices us out of the world market.   Thus we ought to put our health care on the service model.