Tag 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 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.)

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.

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.

Fourth of July Quandary

Yeah,  We are going through a Big Change and I bet you cannot make it.        But I dare you.
You see, I love this country and I think we are losing it.     Here is the Quandary:
Sure, we have a little financial problem, some persistent unemployment, a wad of debt, a war or two or three, (if you don’t count the assassination drones), and a decades old political stalemate that is really mated in stale, I mean really puewy stale, but that leaves out the failure of the people to fund the press and the failure of the press to cover the important stuff when funded only by commercial interests, a supreme court that thinks money is speech, two administrations that think the constitution is meaningless words, but the Big One, that big slow moving change that we all see and don’t want to admit, and is leaving muddy boot prints all over the future of our dreams:  global climate change: climate chaosYup, you are right and I know it too.   All the Republican Presidential candidates deny climate change as a point of pride.  “How the hell can you grow your way out of a depression, if you admit that the consequences of that growth would just make things worst?”   And what does worst mean?   Migrations of people seeking higher ground and, well, food.    No, not timid people,  desperate ones, wars.

Truth is, the Democrats are not much better.  While mouthing green jobs, and I have to laugh when they call robotics green  and  jobs, they too think the only way out of our recession is to manufacture more stuff.  Ah, efficiency. Democrats can only see growth as the answer too.

OK, maybe the case can be be made that since 82% of Americans don’t have passports, they would not know nor care that Australia had a flood the size of France and Germany put together.   Or that the Russian wheat crop failed. Well, Australia’s conservatives used to deny climate change too.  No more.   Will cyclone ally, or the Mississippi flood, or hundred square mile fires wake up ours?
Back in history at a point similar to now, FDR primed the pump.  He got young men working in the CCC camps instead of inventing a life of crime.  Sending money home.  Imagine that.  Our current stimulus envisioned a giant pump priming, thinking there was just one big pump: the banks.  Truth to tell they can just deal with money when it is moving, they don’t make it move, people do, real ones with real locations… on earth.  So how do we get real people in real jobs?, and that could be doing anything since only 8% of us work growing our food.  Planting trees, cutting brush and making trails worked in the 30’s and made kids into strong men with good values.   Kids today want to manipulate stuff with their fingers, because that is all that they have seen: manipulation, money for nothin’ and ever better remotes.  But I digress.
So these parties, the Democrats and Republicans cannot seem to find a lick of common sense among ’em.  Now Will Rogers had some.  He said, “The United States had two great friends…………..  the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.”   I dare say he is still right even though we have spent TEN years traveling half way around the planet, fighting in the place called the Graveyard of Empires: Afghanistan.We are told by both parties it is for national security. Well my goodness, look at the map. Their neighbors are China, Iran, India and Pakistan.     Talk about a rough neighborhood far away.  Are we snookered or what.  For a decade!  What is this national security?  Domination of all places anywhere on the globe?   It seems to be of the same quality as anything that is  securitized. Even if we had a booming real economy rather than one based upon insurance, financial products and speculation on house values we could not afford that.   Darn.   I was going to dare you, not wheedle bout the thicket of our tarbaby mess.  Seems like I got off my trail.

The dare comes in to design a wiki, you know, one of those computer internet gizmos that allows a lot of folks to work together and figure stuff out.  I think the ancient Chinese saying says it best: “If we don’t change direction, we are bound to end up where we are headed.”  And here I think we need to put our heads together and not expect some celebrity to fix it.  We need change that is not a slogan.

Yesterday ( June 30th)was funny day, not ha ha, when the Greek and British peoples rioted in the streets because the bankers had the legislators renege on pensions, a lifetime promise in those countries.  It is called bait and switch.  In response the US stock market gained 150 points.  What does that say? It seems crazy to one like me.  Bet, we’ll see those same kind of riots in the US within two years time.   You have heard the bankers, haven’t you, complaining about all the greedy people.  Folks get funny when you revoke a life long promise. Not ha ha.
I’ll tell you this, people don’t like to get a screwin’, and there are at least 6 million Americans that have got a good one as the banks have foreclosed them out of their home to collect upon credit default swaps and bonuses.  And the screwin’s not done.  And the politics ain’t mappin it, and the press ain’t covering it, and well, that’s why I ask you to help design this wiki.Because without some meta thinking, some big creative thinking, we are going to have a big train wreck.  Our housing has already lost more than after 1929, and the Parties, if you can call them that are, Clubs are more like it, are still having a pissing contest.  Dumping the economy into the gutter…. simply by having the firm and stupid Republicans come to loggerheads with the firm (well, not really) and stupid Democrats about the debt and create here, just what we observed happening in Greece and Britain yesterday.

So I double dog dare you to figure a way out of this fix.   Or to figure a path to a way……. out.   And don’t tell me you are waiting for Elvis to lead the way.

yours,The Old Sodbuster.

Patriot Act Charade

Every single person inaugurated into elective office, all people who serve in the military, over six million of them,  swear to protect and defend the constitution.   It is a short document.  The very most important part of it personally, to you, and to me, is the Bill of Rights, without which the thirteen colonies would not have signed on to become the United States; not enough protection.   The most personal part of the Bill of Rights which are the first ten amendments to the constitution is the Fourth Amendment.   It protects You, a person.

The Fourth Amendment reads:

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.

In short it means you and your stuff are free, unless there is a search warrant signed by a judge with particulars stating where, who and what is to be searched and seized.

That was regretfully obliterated by the ‘lone wolf ‘ provision of the patriot act. The enemy needs no affiliation.   That means is could be you, or me, anybody.

Sorry, they say.   There is no law, The world is a dangerous place and we are here to protect you…. but forget the fourth amendment and all the millions of Americans who swore to protect it, and those who died thinking they were protecting it.

I have been too morose to post this.   I guess you could call it denial, the first stage of grieving.     I have a good carpenter friend who just lost his house.  Oh, and his family.   He got securitized out of his mortgage after eleven years paying on it.  I  feel I am losing my country.  I made the vow as I entered the Navy to protect and defend the constitution.    So did President Obama and all congressmen and senators now serving.  I repeat myself because I cannot believe all these people do not honor their own word.

What nudged me out of my stupor was when Miss USA was driven to tears by the personal violation by a TSA airport frisker.   Flying home through Dallas she had the ‘freedom of choice’ to get radiation from a new high powered airport scanner that virtually undress you and gives an unhealthy dose of radiation, or to be molested by a female TSA frisk specialist.  But that is for another post.

The P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act was prewritten when 9-11 happened and was passed with the hysteria of that very dramatic moment, quickly.  It was not deeply considered then, nor by the congress  when it sunsetted a decade later, conveinently, Osama bin Laden had just been killed and a huge trove of intelligence was captured, and what responsible congressman had the political counterwieght to say “Stop Everything, let us discusss the Forth Amendment and the Patriot act.”  Few, the two Oregon Senators  Wyden and Merkley and Udhall from Utah, but not enough.  So the Patriot Act was extended without discussion another four years, fourteen years after September 11th of 2001.      Meanwhile, the population, especially those who travel by air, become habituated to being frisked for….. being in the USA.

And that is the latest from yourconstitution.   Honored, in the breach.