"..Cheney and Addington will go down in history as the most aggressive and successful advocates of executive powers in this nation’s history. As Fritz Schwarz and I have charted, Cheney and Addington were in large part responsible for the 1987 Congressional Minority Report out of the Iran-contra affair, which first asserted that the White House could wield "monarchical notions of prerogatives." They grounded their vision of executive power on the prerogatives exercised by the British kings who were overthrown by the American Revolution.
Since 2001 Cheney has been at the tip of the spear in pushing for executive authority to override laws against surveillance and torture, among other things. And he’s aggressively used the Office of the Vice President to make unprecedented secrecy claims. In litigation around his energy task force, for example, Cheney invoked Article II of the Constitution–which creates the presidency–to underwrite his defiance of Congressional and private demands for information. The Supreme Court, while it didn’t wholly accept Cheney’s position, yielded to it with alarming deference in 2004. The suit was later dismissed by a lower court.
To rub salt in the open sore of hypocrisy, Cheney has been among the most assertive Vice Presidents in wielding executive privilege independent of the President. He’s also made extravagantly petty claims of secrecy: for example, ordering the Secret Service to destroy logs of visitors to his residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington despite the 1978 Presidential Records Act’s contrary demand.
For Cheney to be pushing the envelope on executive power is especially ironic, given the original constitutional status of the vice presidency: That office is a vestigial afterthought tacked on to the Constitution toward the end of the 1787 Constitutional Convention to solve a gaggle of unrelated problems. And it quickly proved more trouble than it was worth." The Nation
Ah, for the days when a vice president understood that his function was to preside over the senate (occasionally), play cards with his old pals from the same senate and wait for a "sickly season."
Very few VPs have had any function at all other than that. The VP is not in the chain of command of any department of government. He has no authority at all other than that which the president gives him. This president likes to be a "big picture" kind of guy. "You’re either with us or against us" would be his level of detail in running the affairs of state. Cheney is an "operator." He makes the "trains run on time." In one example, he makes them run all the way to Gitmo.
For those who peer beneath the surface of Washington’s daily facade of tourism and monumental buildings it is now evident that Dick Cheney is an anti-constitutionalist.
The US Constitution was constructed by men who distrusted concentrations of power. They had lived through the experience of what they saw as an excessive and arbitrary use of power by the Westminster parliament and the king’s ministers. They did not want to experience that again. For that reason they wrote a document which seeks to limit power rather than to enable it. That determination to prevent the consolidation of power has been weakened over the centuries. The Civil War’s outcome with its emphasis on the "oneness" of the union, the granting to the federal government of taxation rights on the income of individuals, the election of senators by a direct process rather than by the legislatures of the states, all these, and many other changes, have strengthened central power at the expense of the framers’ original intent.
Now we have Cheney and Addington, the leaders of the monarchist faction of the Republican Party. We had the right to think that these issues had been settled by the Revolution itself or at the least by the election of 1800.
After that one, Jefferson freed the captive editors and after his inauguration walked through the dust from Capitol Hill to the White House. Who will save us now?
Franklin was right to say that we have a republic, but that it is up to us to keep it. pl
If we followed the practice from Jefferson’s days, Gore and Kerry would have been our VPs during the last six years.
That, I think, is perhaps the critical question. The following comment is at a slight tangent to your post but I hope you’ll find it apropos.
What seems particularly disturbing is the degree to which mainstream debate seems confined within fairly strict boundaries. Not only by the political “elite” but also the media.
This notion is hardly new, of course (indeed it’s been discussed here at length) but my comment is prompted by a belated reading of the transcript of Putin’s interview with a group of G8 journalists in early June. What struck me as downright spooky is the contrast between the reporting I’ve seen by the MSM and what he actually said.
I’m not well enough informed to properly evaluate the validity of all his comments but it would seem difficult to maintain they weren’t pretty radically distorted. While I don’t see myself as harbouring too many illusions about the media, I confess to being a bit shocked in this case.
As someone infinitely more informed, I’d be most interested in your comments, not only on this specific instance but also more generally on how the republic can be kept when the level of debate is so effectively curtailed.
Colonel, Thank you and well said, especially the question at the end of the post.
Three references for contemplative reflection:
“The Origins of
Totalitarianism” by Hannah Arendt; “Walk on Water” an Israeli film by Eytan Fox; and Vandana Shiva
Then a question: is there
a Lech Walesa or Vaclav Havel or Abraham Lincoln or Dietrich Bonhoeffer in America today.
Not the United States;
That is a corporate slave. America: the heartland that gave the men and women that defeated the Third Reich. America. Yes there is. Where? We shall see.
it has taken six years for the mainstream media to put “what was unspoken” – cheney’s unprecedented and unusual power” into words
i wonder when “what was unspoken – the president who created the unprecdented and unusal situation” will be put into words
ll be writng the story
“Who will save us now?” is indeed the right question.
But how about “ourselves” as the right answer? As you point out, our constitution already provides the blueprints for a successful republic, and if we would only stop electing those unschooled hacks (e.g., Cheney) who will not respect that constitution, we might save ourselves just fine from the worst problems of our day.
Need to quell religious jihads? Try the First Amendment’s anti-establishment clause! Got problems with militias? Have a dose of the Second! Want to perform effective surveillance to help fight terrorism? Nothing works better than the informed-probable-cause legal techniques that respect the Fourth Amendment. And so it goes…
I think that Franklin’s suggestion might be rephrased as “we have given you a republic, if you can just pay due attention to its founding documents in order to to keep it”. Our founding fathers were political geniuses, and especially compared to the likes of Cheney or Murdoch or Dobson or Rove.
There are no woes in the world today that were not considered by Jefferson and Madison and Otis and the others who contributed to the foundations of this great nation. The details have certainly changed, but religious intolerance, ill-conceived wars, greed, and lust for power have been around far longer that this country. Our founding fathers gave us the right framework to constrain the worst woes of modern mankind.
We just need to pay more attention to following the blueprints…
One hopes this gentleman will once more be correct–“A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt…If the game runs sometime against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.”
Thomas Jefferson, 1798
Let’s remember that The Constitution was written in secret by a Convention that superceded its authority to REVISE the Articles of Confederation, which did not work. The People were justly wary of the document, and had to be bribed with the Bill of Rights. Perhaps the best thing about it was that it could be amended to correct bloopers that resulted in the hung election of 1800. Some historians insist that Jefferson only won in the House of Reperesentatives because he cut a secret deal with the Federalists.
We still have no provision for a Popular Vote for President, but rely upon meetings by “notables” to decide for us. The bizarre 2000 Election turned the U.S. into an International JOKE.
At the 1980 Republican Convention the idea was bruted about that nominee Ronald Reagan would award the Vice Presidency to Gerald Ford, but with enhanced powers as befitting a former President. When Walter Cronkite described the putative arrangement as a “Co-Presidency,” it was scotched, however. They had to wake up poor George Bush pere to tell him he’d been awarded the “pitcher of warm spit”–as Cactus Jack Garner described it. George was pretty cranky about winning the booby prize, as I recall.
It was good of you to remind us how the Senate was originally to be elected. It seems to be a superior method. One house elected by the People, the other by the States. It would make a huge difference now.
The American people don’t want a republic. They want a remote and benign dictatorship wrapped in the constitutional FORMS of a republic — ideally, one that will interfere as little as possible with their personal pursuit of pleasure.
And so that is what they have. Except for the benign part.
I must admit..Cheney scares the hell out of me.
I think this story is representative of US progress in building democracy in Iraq:
“U.S. Marines in Iraqi City See Signs of Progress in an Outhouse”
“une 27 (Bloomberg) — After a tense drive in an armored convoy, on constant lookout for roadside bombs and other potential hazards, U.S. Marine Captain Jeffrey McCormack directed a giant forklift to set down the wooden outhouse.
“It may be an outhouse to you,” said McCormack. “It’s progress for us.”
The convoy had escorted the outdoor toilet to a new police and U.S. Marine fortress in Jubayl, a residential district of Fallujah, a symbol of anti-American resistance in western Iraq. There, the Marines have embarked on an ambitious project to turn over control of the city to Iraqi security forces.
For the Marines, even this shack, adding the final touch to a complex of cement barriers and barbed wire, was a sign a long occupation might finally come to an end and the Iraqis would take over….
The U.S. plan is to divide Fallujah into 12 districts, all separated by concrete walls and barbed wire, and manned by hundreds of Iraqi police, soldiers and police auxiliaries. The districting will reduce insurgent and terrorist mobility and make it easier for local residents to watch out for troublemakers, Marine officials say.
Jubayl, the outhouse’s destination, is one of two districts already walled off. About 40 Iraqi police, supplemented by 160 members of a “neighborhood watch” of armed helpers, patrol the district from the fortified base. The police receive $500 a month, and members of the “watch” $50, all paid for by the Interior Ministry.
“This is the final battle for Fallujah,” said Colonel Richard Simcock, commander of the Marines’ Regimental Combat Team 6, the 6,000-strong contingent in charge of the city. He predicts the entire districting project may be completed by January 2008. “I believe I’ll be able to walk with you downtown in safety,” Simcock said in an interview at his headquarters outside the city.”
I can’t think of anything to add after reading that.
Montag, for the record Cactus Jack never used the words “a pitcher of warm spit”. The correct quote was “a pitcher of warm piss”. It was cleaned up by the press at the time. I can remember him correcting this several times in the 40’s and 50’s
We have arrived at a monarchical government because Repubs believe a majority of the people prefer that system and think that having an all-powerful sort-of-elected “president” is superior to the model actually set up by the constitution.
Cheney and Addington have simply taken our post-war “strong executive” system to its extreme, but logical, Repub conclusion. (With the VP as the actual “executive”, but that’s another issue) And now the facts are becoming known.
What will happen as a result?
A republic would not allow these revelations to stand unchallenged. It would not stand in dumb inaction as executive power was concentrated beyond any possible intent of the constitution.
In an American Republic, the House would impeach Cheney for admitted violations of the law, depredations to the constitution and unconstitutional aggrandizement of executive power. It would bring the charges to the GOP-constipated senate and demand that GOoPer senators choose: His Majesty Dick or the republic.
That it is not done or even imagined to be remotely possible demonstrates the actual status of the republic and the American constitutional system.
Ben, we couldn’t keep it. But thanks for the warning, anyway.
What we have is a constitutional monarch rather than a president. Think of George W as Queen Elizabeth II, and Dick Cheney as his Tony Blair. George likes to preside over ceremonial events, like Mission Accomplished. (Does it not stick in your craw that while our soldiers were slogging through the desert to fight his war, George was practicing in the White House pool in case he had to bail out of his plane.) Everything Elizabeth does is parallelled by our “king.” She opens Parliament (he: State of Union address); she knights deserving citizens (he: Freedom medals for Paul Bremer and George Tenet); she addresses the nation (He: New Orleans debacle); she signs laws (He: signs signing statements). With that as background, don’t Cheney’s actions make sense? Each is doing what each does best: Cheney govern stealthily, Bush preside ceremonially.
Altogether now: GOD SAVE KING GEORGE!
Soldiers of the Weimar Republic were required to take an oath to the Constitution, just as ours are. But when the German President Hindenburg died in 1934, Hitler seized power by combining the offices of Prime Minister and President–becoming Fuhrer. He then had the military take a new oath to himself.
It’s telling that when Cheney gave a speech at West Point he mentioned their oath to defend the COUNTRY, not the Constitution. Al Franken has also written about Cheney’s selective memory about Arlington National Cemetery. Cheney tends to rhapsodize movingly about seeing “the white crosses row on row,” when they’re actually headstones. Does Cheney even know the difference?
“In an American Republic, the House would impeach Cheney for admitted violations of the law, depredations to the constitution and unconstitutional aggrandizement of executive power. It would bring the charges to the GOP-constipated senate and demand that GOoPer senators choose: His Majesty Dick or the republic.”
Surely in a functioning republic, Bush would have been impeached before the end of his second term if the laws of the land applied to him. Of course, he’d never have made President in that case.
This will never occur until there’s campaign finance reform, and even that might not withstand well orchestrated campaigns by non-corporate interest groups like, oh, say, the religious right. At any one time it seems to me that the great unwashed “middle” could outvote any focussed interest group, but that’s the problem. People need their attention focussed. Disciplined religious or other like-minded cohorts that often share anti-democratic or authoritarian ideologies are just so much better at it than all the incoherent groups of individuals AGAINST rather than FOR something. There are so few rich and so very many poor, yet rich trumps poor every time. There is one arena where the lowest common denominator with the greatest mass SEEMS to hold sway: popular culture. Yet complex things are seldom as they seem to be.
That is why, Peter Principle, there are such wars against millions who just want a little pleasurable I&I- intercourse and intoxication – but the “wrong” flavour of those timeless pursuits. Not to mention that the current configuration of the war on drugs focuses so much anti-democratic wealth and power that the ruling elites find felicitous to their continued rule in the present day, whereas in “simpler times” Prohibition proved not to be – at least not after some mighty “legitimate” fortunes were established, and knocked on Power’s door louder than any two bit gangster.
While I am deeply concerned and have been for some time, I am not as discouraged as some are. We need to respond to Franklins challange and I think that we will. The first step is the ’08 elections. We’ve pulled the US back from the brink at least once earlier in my life time and I think we will again.
One should remember that the “people” Jefferson had faith in, and the “people” that selected Senators and Presidents were among those with the right to vote, i.e the landed and by and large, the educated.
Today, there is no distinction between marketing and politics because the informed are vastly outnumbered by the uninformed. The same 70% who approved of the Iraq adventure in 2003 now disapprove of it, but they don’t know why. They approved of it perhaps because they believed in the thin veil of lies used to promote it then, and they disapprove now because we do not appear to be “winning.” It felt good then, it doesn’t feel good now.
The truth, in my view, is that we have gone too far towards populism and the political elite know that the secret to the game is in the marketing of the product and not the quality of the product.
We are simply between marketing campaigns.
I find it funny that the extra-consitutional gyrations are being pushed by many of the same so-called conservatives who purport to believe in the theory of “originalism” in context of interpreting the US Constitution.
Funny and sad.
Not only trains, PL. Cheney also makes the planes crash on time. He is the master of logistics.
Paul Wolfowitz used the phrase “a Pearl Harbor-like event” three months before 9/11 during his commencement address to the graduating West Point class. Pearl Harbor and imminent surprise attacks, in fact, were the themes of his speech. He advised the incoming officers to get ready to be suprised. I’m sure his speech was found to be quite thought-provoking. You might say it was a real coup. (If you haven’t heard it, I posted part of the address here a while back:)
If subpoeaned, his majesty will claim privilege. If impeached, he will issue a decree invalidating it on national security grounds. It will be called an Executive Order. He and his henchmen prepared this way for 30 painstaking years. They share the same blood on their hands, they’ve got the security apparatus, and they’re not going to back off. Ever. REAL ID is coming in 2009. Are you ready for your bar code? Fortunately, it’s all for our own good.
Who will save us now? Flood. There seems to be something bigger going on than a counter-coup.
There is a consensus-building, you can feel it gathering momentum. It’s an intuitive, shared understanding that the systems of the earth itself protest the scars inflicted upon them by these glabrous hulks. Like the eschatons these loose monsters long for, their modes of rule cannot be sustained. They go too far. Logistics can conquer, but rulers must know how to pacify. They don’t understand the first thing about doing that, and this is why they will fail. The net effort required for them to maintain rule is more expensive than the profits they can steal.
Granted, we’re footing the bill for that, and I don’t have a clear vision of the precise means of their failure. But maybe the “who” are simply the Many. In a lot of ways, this country is better than it has ever been, and in a transformative stage. The old United States is dying.
We will come like water. By planting a garden, by generating our own power, communicating with each other, and by improving our supply chains. By accepting that the world has changed, and so must our way of life. The ’59 Corvette at the drive in, having a malt with Lynne at your side and then cruising Saturday night away, that Way of Life is already gone.
There are plenty who have thrown their hands up in despair. It is tempting to do so. But, I think undeniably, there is something like a god at work in human affairs, something eternal which does not favor tyrants. America is starting to understand the principle that the land and the King are one, and that our King right now is one sick bastard.
Two points Col:
1) You wrote a great piece a while ago: “The People are Soveriegn”. You should post it once every month or so .. One of my favorites! Cheney would deny all of it, i’m sure.
2) Have you – or any other commenters – read “Secrecy and Privilege: The rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq” ? It was written by Robert Parry – a journo involved in breaking many of the stories of the Iran-Contra imbroligo
…fascinating stuff in that one !
There is a big difference. GWB actually has power. She does not. pl
True, Colonel. But he’s chosen to bequeath it. He signs what is put in front of him.
I’m not as pessimistic as a lot of my brethren here.
Our country has always had this tug of war between a strong and weak presidency, even amongst our Founders. The pendulum has been swinging to the extreme the last few decades. It will reverse. Much, much too slowly for my tastes, but it will reverse. Americans are waking up and don’t like what they see.
We *did* recover from a horrendous civil war, don’t forget.
I am simply glad that this isssue is being raised. I wish it could be raised in other forums and become part of a wider conversation. This reality has been bothering me sinc before the ’04 election. The first step in the process of altering the situation is an honest development of conciousness raising, followed by real research and aaction steps. Perhaps this blog will be one of the initiatory steps in that process. I am by most standards a liberal andby some on some isssues a radical, however, on the issues of boundaries, the rule of law and the constraint of power I am an ‘old school conservative’. I have found this President rephresensible in his violations in these areas. Our Founder unnderstood that Liberty requires risk and that to sustain it some aspects of ‘security ‘ must be set aide. When fear is marketed to provide votes then Liberty can only be at risk. In an old fashioned way this administration is an embarrassment both in their disdain for ‘the people’ and in their inability to allow facts and realities that harm their myths to be articulated and known. they represent not our worst but our own banality of mediocrity.
The fourth and fifth paragraphs of your discussion above about the article from the Nation magazine describe it well.
I wrote a comment, but I think it’s much too long.
So I’ll just say that I am concerned that the autocratic moves by the federal government will continue. The Psychological Warfare Operation (PsyOp) against the American people that began in earnest on 11 September 2001 was stunningly successful. The temptation to repeat it will be almost irresistible.
Congress has passed laws that have vested nearly totalitarian authority in the executive branch. This is extremely dangerous, because now the executive branch can do things that previously were illegal and harmful, and say they are “legal”.
Congress and the mass media are just as much to blame as Bush-Cheney.
But the now-oppressive federal system, run by only a few persons and helped by some in the private sector, is remarkably weak, because it depends totally on the cooperation of the many.
Without our continued cooperation and consent, Bush-Cheney would have zero power. The former East Germany, a sophisticated surveillance and totalitarian State, collapsed almost from one day to the next. The once-feared Erich Mielke, head of the Stasi, East Germany’s Department of Homeland Security, suddenly found himself being mocked and laughed at by a crowd of people who decided to withdraw their consent and, without violence, took his so-called “power” away.
At such time as enough people inside or outside, or both, of what is called the federal system decide no longer to cooperate with Bush-Cheney and the insidious expansion of the central government, without regard to elections in 2008, and withdraw their consent, it will be over.
Aziz Huq’s article — while certainly informative — may miss an angle of analysis, and it is one that I would like to offer for consideration. Huq refers to Executive Order 12958, and rightly so, as this executive order creates a “uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information”, to quote from Rep. Waxman’s recent letter to Vice President Cheney. In this letter, Rep. Waxman wanted to know why the VP’s office had not complied with requests from the Oversight Office to conduct an inspection in accordance with the executive order.
But to understand the rise of the Imperial Vice Presidency, it may help to delve deeper into the background of this executive order and, more importantly, to look at Executive Order 13292, which amended the one to which Huq and others refer.
Former President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12958 in 1995 and the purpose of the order was to create more transparency in government. The system that resulted not only made the classification of documents more difficult but also ensured that the declassification of information was much easier. And it worked. In the first five years, this executive order led to the declassification of over 800 million pages of records. http://www.freedomofinfo.org/foi/podesta_transcript.pdf
Eight years later — and five days after the beginning of the Iraq Invasion on March 20, 2003 — President Bush signed Executive Order 13292 which amended 12958, and the changes are stunning. Look for yourself and contrast the two. I suggest examining the final line-in / line-out version of Executive Order 13292, showing the changes made to the earlier EO 12958. http://www.fas.org/sgp/bush/eo13292inout.html
The first paragraph alone shows a glimpse of the spirit underlying the new executive order as it strikes earlier language from 1995. The earlier EO stated that US national interest requires that certain information be maintained in confidence in order to protect, among other things, our “participation with a community of nations”. In the new executive order it is now “interaction with other nations.”
More than anything else, EO 13292 offers indisputable proof — or if you prefer, is the “smoking gun” — showing that the Vice President’s Office assumed executive duties traditionally reserved to the US President. As Section 1.3 (a) (1) makes plain for all of history, the authority to classify information was expanded to include the US Vice President, acting “in the performance of executive duties”.
“In the performance of executive duties”. If you take the time to review EO 13292, you will see the phrase “in the performance of executive duties” six times, by my count. Each time the phrase is employed, it acts to expand the powers of the Vice President and give him authority which did not exist in the earlier order. To further illuminate this point, look at Section 6.1 (cc) where “original classification authority” is defined as an individual authorized to classify information in writing, including by, among others, the “Vice President in the performance of executive duties”.
Once the VP and his office were granted the authority and power to classify documents relating to national defense, then essentially the role of commander-in-chief no longer belonged to the US President solely. After all, if Vice President Cheney has the authority to classify information, then he can call the shots. And just as significantly, the executive order was signed only few days after the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, which began on March 20, 2003. So clearly the intent of this executive order, among other things, was to transfer more power to the Office of the Vice President and, ultimately, the chief operator himself — VP Cheney. In other words, the executive order was the mechanism that allowed presidential powers to flow into the Office of the Vice President in ways never seen before.
Here’s what’s strange. Rep. Waxman and others appear, at least ostensibly, to want the VP’s Office to comply with the oversight provisions of the EO in order to determine why certain information was declassified or “leaked”. In particular, Rep. Waxman’s mentions the disclosure of Valerie Plame in his letter to the Cheney. http://www.speaker.gov/blog/?p=507
But the real need for compliance by the Vice President’s Office, at least in my opinion, is not to determine why the office has leaked some information but, instead, to determine if the office was warranted in classifying information. Addington’s refusal to comply with the demands of the Information Security Oversight Office suggests that the Vice President does not want the public to know the information — or lies — that led to the invasion and the prosecution of the war itself. The EO may shine a bright line on some dark places, so the stonewalling and legal gymnastics have begun.
In all likelihood, the issue will end up in our justice system. In January 07, the Information Security Oversight Office requested that the US Attorney General render an advisory opinion as to whether or not the VP’s Office had to comply with the requests for inspection. The USDOJ never responded. And it is interesting to note the VP Office did comply with the inspections in the years prior to the Iraqi invasion. But after the invasion…nada.
So the courts will weigh in. It is perhaps relevant at this point to mention the work of Roberto Unger. Unger — a social theorist and law professor at Harvard Law School — studied the judicial system that existed during the time of the Weimar Republic. In his book Law in Modern Society, he concluded that the inability of the courts to justify the status quo created a breakdown in the German society, and this disintegration of justice opened the floodgates that gave rise to Nazism.
“In the performance of executive duties.” The devil is in the details.
“At such time as enough people inside or outside, or both, of what is called the federal system decide no longer to cooperate with Bush-Cheney and the insidious expansion of the central government…it will be over.”
You touch on something I’ve been wondering about for a long time, robt willmann.
At some point policy must be implemented. That means worker bees in the civil service and military do the work. For any of you unfamiliar with civil service “rank,” the top folks are the Senior Executive Service (SES) and below them are GS-15s down to GS-1s. The SESs and GS-15s are going to get the implementation ball rolling.
I’ve been hoping for years that these folks are providing some sanity check and firewall. My hunch is that we’ll start hearing more from them after 2009 once their political appointee minders are gone. The civil service workers are the *constant* in the equation.
Colonel, these were your cohorts. What’s your thought on the SESs and GS-15s who have been dealing with this administration for the last 6 years? Have they been providing some checks and balances of their own? Are my hopes all for naught?
For a lighthearted view of how the civil service actually runs the government regardless of who is elected, I recommend the “Yes Minister” and “Yes Prime Minister” programs produced by the BBC in the 1980s. I can’t attest for the series’ accuracy, but it is definitely funny.
Yes (Prime) Minister
MarcLord: Paul Wolfowitz used the phrase “a Pearl Harbor-like event” three months before 9/11 during his commencement address to the graduating West Point class.
That would be 2001.
Pls note though, that _Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New century_, published in 2000 as a report of The Project for the New American Century, also uses “Pearl Harbor” in the same context:
Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.
I wonder what will be Bush-Cheney’s display of the iron fist of totalitarianism within their velvet glove of merely finagling the Constitution. With King Charles I of England it was when he sent armed soldiers into Parliament to arrest 5 members of the House of Commons and 1 member of the House of Lords. These worthies had the good sense not to be there at the time, so the King achieved nothing besides demonstrating that the time for words was past–now was the time for action.
The good Colonel may be interested in this anecdote. A group of people were touring one of the stately historic homes of Virginia with a very knowledgeable guide. She was giving them the history of the house when she happened to mention “the Civil War.” This prompted an Englishman in the group to ask, “Which side was Virginia on in the Civil War?”
The guide replied heatedly, “Why Sir, Virginia was the heart and soul of the Confederacy!”
The Englishman replied, “No, I meant which side was Virginia on in the ENGLISH Civil War of the 1640s?”
That one completely stumped her.
With great respects to the expert company here, I’d like to contribute inexpert comments.
1. Should the shoes shift next year to the Democrat’s ‘foot,’ I’d wonder if the Repubicans would be moved to support unitary claims by Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama or John Edwards. …a thought problem.
2. No matter what the candidate’s affiliation, each one should be asked what their personal views are on the radical prerogatives so introduced–and implemented–by the current administration.
3. I have to wonder how those radical gains could be consolidated in a handoff to a similarly disposed successor. It’s almost as if Mr. Cheney doesn’t really think there will be a handoff to any other kind of leadership.
(And, I’m not a conspiracy type at all, but giving up power is provided for except in what kinds of circumstances?)
Thank you Mr. Lang and to all the other Patriots here.
you write “America: the heartland that gave the men and women that defeated the Third Reich.”. Bullshit. The Third Reich was defeated by the Soviet Union, at a cost the U.S. would not have been prepared to pay. Had the bulk of the German army not been bled dry in the East, no U.S. soldier would have set foot on mainland Europe (and the North Africa campaign would have likely ended in a total American disaster). What the U.S. did do is keep the Soviets from claiming all of Europe as their reward after WWII – for which this European at least is gratefull (though my gratitude does not mean I consider myself or my country an American vassal, as the current administration seems to expect of me).
Leigh and Colonel Lang,
to me the key differences between Queen Elisabeth II and GWB are that the Queen has been diligently attending to her duties ever since becoming Queen, is smart enough to know when to speak and when to be silent, and generally shows the kind of dignified behaviour considered fitting for a head of state.
Speaking of Cheney, observe how he/the US turned a blind eye to the Iraqi opposition groups (fundamentalist Shiites, e.g. al-Da’wa, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq) and think about why the Iraqi Paliament vis-a-vis Maliki has been able to sustain a stiffened middle finger aimed squarely at Cheney’s/the US fat bald head:
1) Bush warns Iraq on chemical arms U.S. fears use of weapons against rebels. Chicago Tribune. March 10, 1991 [snip]
Jawad al-Maliki of the Dawa Party said in Damascus, Syria, that mustard gas was used against protesters in al-Haleh, al-Kifil, Najaf and some areas of Basra, in southeastern Iraq.
Precisely what is going on inside Iraq is difficult to determine since Western reporters have been expelled. Most information is coming from refugees and opposition leaders in Iran and Syria.
Defense Secretary Dick Cheney described the situation as “volatile” but said it appears Hussein will be able to keep the unrest in check for now.
The Iraqi leader is using his loyal Republican Guard to quell the
2) Iraq Warned on Using Gas. Newsday. March 10, 1991 [snip]
An exiled Shiite Iraqi opposition figure, Jawad al-Maliki, said in
Damascus that mustard gas had already been used to kill hundreds of rebellious civilians, mostly in southern Iraq. But Pentagon officials said they were skeptical.
3) U.S. Feels Out Iran Groups Trying to Oust Iraqi Leader. Wall Street Journal. July 31, 1998 [snip]
Hamad Al-Bayati, a Sciri representative in London, says his group doesn’t want U.S. funds, and, “We have doubts about the seriousness of the administration.”
Dr. Al-Bayati, who met with Mr. Indyk last month in Washington, says the U.S. should crack down on Iraqi human-rights violations as hard as it cracks down on Iraq’s weapons programs.
For example, he says, when two Shiite religious leaders were assassinated in southern Iraq, the U.S. was silent.
A State Department official says the U.S. had prepared a condemnation, but the issue never came up in news briefings.
4) Iraqi Shi’i Opposition Leader Visits Syria and Lebanon, Praises
Kuwaiti Support BBC. February 27, 2000 [snip]
Hakim, meanwhile, criticized the American plan to remove Saddam Husayn
“This plan is vague and lacks support to thefield issue,” he said.
The plan, said Hakim, did not considerthe protection of the Iraqi
people, the opposition operationsnor the field and practical issues.
He said the Iraqi people were doing “a wide and active” operations but they were facing relentless oppression.
“Among the obstacles facing the Iraqi people to remove their regime is the international position which does not care with the humanitarian side, oppression and the destruction of the weapons of mass destruction,” he said.
Keywords: Iraq, President Saddam Hussein, Cheney, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, Jawad al-Maliki, Maliki, Da’wa, al-Dawa, Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, al-Haleh, al-Kifil, Najaf, Iraqi Shi’i
Thanks, yes thanks for reminding me. They knew it as a requirement for mobilization since the early 90s.
Stephen Calhoun said: “3. I have to wonder how those radical gains could be consolidated in a handoff to a similarly disposed successor. It’s almost as if Mr. Cheney doesn’t really think there will be a handoff to any other kind of leadership.”
I don’t think it was Cheney’s goal to permanently establish an impenetrable unitary executive. It is as if he’s performed the ultimate Daffy Duck trick where Daffy swallows the gasoline, lights the match, and says, ‘but you can only do this once.’ This is from the last part of an article about his absolute control of Bush:
“Despite the recent round of punditry that Cheney’s influence has waned, he remains a formidable force. These are Cheney’s final days; this is his endgame. He will never run again for public office. He is freed from the constraints of political consequences. He now has no horizon. He lives only in the present. He is nearly done. There are only months left to achieve his goals. Mortality impinges. Next month, he will have his heart pacemaker replaced. He disdains public opinion. He does not care who’s next. “We didn’t get elected to be popular,” he said on Fox News on May 10. “We didn’t get elected to worry just about the fate of the Republican Party.” ”
Cold War Zoomie,
You write about the govt bureaucrats who actually run things (“SESs and GS-15s are going to get the implementation ball rolling”) and why they are not apparently helping stop/slow this seemingly inevitable slide towards monarchy.
May I offer a solution? This administration has taken political appointments into the SES ranks to an unprecedented level (just like every thing else they do). For instance, nearly every (if not all) DOD deputy and assistant secretaries (including at the service levels) were made into political appointee SESs (vice professional, career govt executives). These dogmatic (dare I say beholden?) officials proceeded to enforce political mandates against the advice (and sometime with the collusion of silent cheerleaders in senior GS ranks) of long-term govt professionals. Similar story at State Dept, Intel community, Justice (need we say more about that politicization?) and every other dept of the Executive Branch.
Those professionals not forced out directly work in an exceedingly hostile environment – not to mention under the gaze of minders spread out in the Exec Branch who work for the OVP. Many, many long serving government professionals found themselves on the outside looking in; worse yet, many found themselves serving those clearly inferior in intellect, experience, integrity and dedication to govt service (CPA ring a bell?). Many of them simply had enough and left (forever) for greener pastures of industry and retirement.
Any wonder we are where we are? I wonder how we are not further down the road to an oblivious authoritarian state!
Now that the “elected” reign is fast approaching its end, the watchers ponder the long-term impact and whether the professionals will ever rise again. A recent article in Govt Exec journal discusses this issue:
I just hope that “civil service workers” remain “the *constant* in the equation” over the next few years. It is not so clear that they will be the salvation of our Republic.
There’s an interesting story about the Free City of Danzig, which was set up by the Treaty of Versailles after WWI. Danzig was given this peculiar status because it was predominantly German, while constituting Polands only port. So the 357,000 inhabitants were given their own government on Jan. 10, 1920. A British diplomat, Sir Reginald Tower, was appointed League of Nations High Commissioner for the new government to get things started. But the experienced and efficient German civil servants in the city simply adapted to the new regime and administered the city so well that there was little for Tower to do except negotiate the Convention on the relationship between Poland and the Free City, which proved to be a real headache.
John Dean brandishes a constitutional sword at the Office of VP.
Thanks for your response. That makes sense. I thought these SESs were promoted mostly from the GS-15 ranks rather than “appointed” although I have known a few to be brought over from the high tech industry. But those guys seemed to be there more for their skills than their politics.
Who remembers this:
“CHENEY: Well, we’re getting close to that moment. Governor Bush, at this point, still prefers Governor Bush, and that’s the way we’re referring to him and that he’s asked the staff to address him. We have not yet crossed the Rubicon, so to speak, to the point where we feel comfortable using the other title.
By the way, did you notice the feather in Trent’s hat yesterday? ”
This was an astonishing thing to say in the context of that grotesque election and its aftermath.
Not sure if this MTP program aired before or after Bush was trotted out with a battered face to give the Texas press conference in which he used the word “responsibility” over and over and over and over. Cheney stood on his right side slightly behind and when Dubya faltered he moved slightly closer. At the time it seemed more menacing than supportive.
The collective memory problem may be related to our mass [media-induced] ADD. Both are aggravated by information overload and the habitual suspension of disbelief.
Anybody have a map showing the Rubicon? Where exactly is it and does it by any chance have an oxbow?
SESs come in two types, career and politically appointed. These are distinct from political appontees under the various schedules. The politically appointed SESs are supposed to leave when their “masters” leave office, but part of the program for partisan survival of the period when your group is out of office its to “burrow” a number of politicals into the career SES force where they are harder to get rid of by the incoming party and they can act as a kind” of “5th column” until “the return.”
I was a career SES in the intelligence series but had never been a civil servant before that. I was appointed when I retired from the Army. pl
Laugh out loud, as a representative for the younger generation, y´all sound like you need to put on a skimask and hurl some bricks at inanimate objects as therapy. I feel like doing it myself now and then.
Cheney is like a nightmare, an evil vision across humanitys future. Cheney is defacto minister of black ops, now that is a position taken straight out of El Salvador. Negroponte, Wolfowitz, the merry deathsquad crew..
By the way, what is Cheney’s Borg Identity? FUtus of Borg. In Borg lore FUtus is often depicted as offering the Borg symbol of unity to the masses.
Who else in the administration has a Borg identity? Why there’s Alberto Gonzalez whose Borg identity is Refutus which means: It’s not my fault.
What about Bush himself? He is known as BigDoofus of Borg. Well actually BigDoofus of half wit because the Borg refused to give Bush a Borg identity. Even the Borg failed to find a brain in that head. Since they could find no brain, the Borg implants failed to take root in BigDoofus of halfwit. Nevertheless, the Borg in an uncharacteristic show of compassion allowed Bush to glue “falsies”—fake Borg implants onto his person after he let it be known that he thought Borg implants “looked cool.”
Note there are other Borg identities out there.
Rush is known as BigGlutus of Borg.
Ann is known as ShrillShrewtus of Borg.
All of those senators who are crying over their recent losses in the immigration battles are collectively known as BooHootus of Borg.