Fear the enemies within America more than those outside

Summary:  The Second Republic, our political regime build on the Constitution, is dying.  Not from an external foe, as our armed forces reign supreme on land, sea, and air.  These people have slowly, inexorably chipped away at the Constitution.  Emboldened by their success, now they rip out its heart.  In this post we look upon one face of the enemy. 

“… treason has ever been our greatest foe.”
Gandalf the Grey, in Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring

The fourth and fifth amendments are the very heart of the Constitution.  Without their protections the remainder is but poetry.  Pretty words.  During Bush Jr the fourth amendment was shredded.  Under Obama the fifth has been shredded.  Witness one of the enemies, exultant at his victory.  At our defeat.

In the following video we see Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaking at the Senate session debating the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 on 30 November 2011 (transcript from the Congressional Record; text and the below video from C-Span).   This man shows no sign of understanding the most basic aspects of our system, and displays a near-classic example of totalitarian thinking.


You can see transcripts and videos of the entire debate at C-SPAN.  Here is one typical excerpt (6:15 pm):

That is the point. Why would you say that if you are in Afghanistan, we can blow you up, put you in jail forever, but if you make it here, all of a sudden we cannot even talk to you about being part of al-Qaida. What a perverse outcome, to say if you make it to America, you are home free.  You cannot be interrogated by our military or our CIA; you get a lawyer. And that is the end of the discussion. That is what you would be doing.

That is crazy. No Congress has ever decided to do that in other wars.

If we do that here, we are changing the law in a way that makes us less safe. That is not going to be on my resume.

Graham makes this point repeatedly.  The President has assumed the authority to capture and hold forever — or kill — anyone on foreign soil he deems an enemy.  Including a US citizenk, without charge or trial.  So why not take the next step and allow him to do so in the US?  We’re on the slippery slope to tyranny.

These people will strip us of protections won over centuries of struggle since Magna Carta in 1215.  To protect us from what?  Al Qaeda, a rag-tag organization which might no longer exist in meaningful form?  Whose remnant appear to be mostly losers in the US, who often assemble operations only with the aid of the police or FBI.  The various nationalist jihadist groups fighting for control of their nations, often against US-backed tyrants (eg, Egypt, Yemen)?  The losers the police and FBI coddle, support and encourage to become terrorists?

These people are our enemies.  They are winning.  Until we realize this no defense can succeed.

We can retake both parties and our government.  We have the power, but lack the will.

The First Ammendment is also under attack

  1. Criminalizing free speech, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 1 June 2011
  2. The DOJ’s escalating criminalization of speech, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 4 September 2011
  3. Does Posting Jihadist Material Make Tarek Mehanna a Terrorist?“, Adam Serwer, Mother Jones, 16 December 2011 — “How the outcome of Mehanna’s trial could rewrite the line between speech and crime.”
  4. I Guess Posting Videos Online Can Make You a Terrorist“, Adam Serwer, Mother Jones, 20 December 2011
  5. Convicted for words, not deeds“, Salon, 21 December 2011 — “Verdict on Massachussetts Muslim marks further erosion of fundamental U.S. rights”

For more information

  1. Forecast: Death of the American Constitution, 4 July 2006
  2. See the last glimmers of the Constitution’s life…, 27 June 2008
  3. Another step away from our Constitutional system, with applause, 19 September 2008
  4. Another step towards fascism: “Silencing the Lawyers”, 31 May 2010
  5. The Feds decide who to lock up for life (not just at Guantanamo), another nail in the Constitution’s coffin, 2 June 2010
  6. Code red! The Constitution is burning., 5 August 2010
  7. An Appalling Threat to Civil Liberties and Democracy, 8 August 2010
  8. Every day the Constitution dies a little more, 1 September 2010 — About US government assassination programs
  9. What do our Constitution-loving conservatives say about our government’s assassination programs?, 2 September 2010
  10. Cutting down the tree of liberty, 9 September 2010 — Government secrets trump fair trials.
  11. The guilty ones responsible for the loss of our liberties, 11 September 2010
  12. War is the health of the state, 18 September 2010
  13. A great philosopher and statesman comments on the Bush-Obama tweaks to the Constitution, 10 October 2010
  14. This week’s news: many stories showing that the Constitution is dead, 8 December 2010
  15. Conservatives tells us not to worry about the Constitution’s death, 23 March 2011
  16. Tearing the Constitution is a bipartisan sport!, 4 April 2011
  17. Watch the Constitution die right now as we burn a 2452 year old vital legal precedent, 11 October 2011
  18. Let’s gaze upon the corpse of the Fourth Amendment, 12 October 2011
  19. RIP, Constitution. The Second Republic died this week. Of course, we don’t care (that’s why it died)., 5 December 2011

24 thoughts on “Fear the enemies within America more than those outside”

  1. I notice Graham’s Youtube channel disabled the thumb’s up and thumbs down rating for this video as well needing to review comments before they are published. Pretty pathetic.

  2. At least we know now why these people want to disband The Department of Education. There are still some children left that can call them out on how our government is supposed to operate and what the intent of founding fathers really was.

      1. The Obama administration objected to sections 1031 and 1032 for a confused medley of reasons. Most strongly as this gives broad and explicit but limited authority, rather than the vague and every growing grey zone of executive authority (see this official statement, 17 November).

        From memory, I believe Senator Graham said that Obama insisted that many protections originally in the bill be stripped out. I have not seen that Obama denies that.

        Update: Senator Carl Levin (D-MI, chairman of the Armed Forces Committee) said that these provisions were deleted at the request of Obama administration officials: Senate Floor Speech on the Detainee Provision in the Defense Authorization Bill, 18 November 2011.

  3. I read that there are many refugees from Afghanistan living in surrounding countries and worldwide. It would be interesting to know the affiliation of these people , whether they became refugees to escape the Communist or present regime , or Taliban regime . I would imagine most would tend to be favourably inclined to Western society ; although a disappointing experience of it as refugees , might change their mindset. I read that the ( known ) British jihadists were actually homegrown .
    I also read that in the Afghan elections , only residents were allowed to vote .Do wonder at the wisdom of barring refugees , who might want to return under a different government , from voting . Maybe this was just beacuse impossible to organise and verify , although the Red Crescent and Cross might have been able to sort it .

  4. In light of the times we are moving into in the near future this is more than chilling. It is frightening the possible outcomes that may and will probably arise from this Bill. The willingness to just propose this Bill would have been very significant but the actual codification of it is almost beyond my comprehension right now.

    In the past I thought ideas like FEMA CAMPS were just plain nuts; no longer do I dismiss such things.

    1. Is it the processed food?
    2. Is it the Television and digital entertainment?
    3. Is it the failed education at so many levels?
    4. Is it the Journalism that has descended into mere propaganda?
    5. Is it the years of willful fear mongering……..
    6. Why is it that the majority of American citizens seem simply NUMB?
    7. …so disconnected from what is happening in the country on a weekly basis.

    Couple this with the Militarization of the Police at even the rural level and I am certain the stage is set for a very forceful progression into a total police state at the early signs of civil unrest on a seemingly coordinated scale. Thx for the Post and clip.


  5. Why does Senator Graham keep on insisting that it only applies to Al Qaida operatives? Iirc, it applies to anyone ‘suspected’ of ‘aiding or helping’ any terrorist organization. Which one is correct?

    1. Because it would be harder to pass a bill if Senator Graham pointed at the Democrats and said “This bill’s for you!”

      My memory agrees with you and the wording is “aiding or materially helping” anybody the US government believes is a terrorist. We’ve already seen that this can include offering legal advice to the individuals in question.

      A potential stock pick: Buy firms that build and maintain prisons. It is likely that they will be very busy for the next 20 years or so.

    2. Because to totalitarians guilt results from the government’s accusation — not a trial. Trials are an unnecessary formality, which unfortunately sometimes let criminals (even terrorists!) go free.

      See tomorrow’s post for another example.

      Know thy enemy.

  6. C-SPAN: "A major law professor tells us the hard facts

    Video of Jonathan Turley (Prof Law, George Washington U) on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, 19 December 2011 — Transcript starting aprox 15:40:

    President Obama has just stated that he is going to maintain a policy that he can have any American citizen killed without any charge, without any review, except his own. If he’s satisfied that you are a terrorist, he says that he can kill you anywhere in the world including in the United States.

    Two of his aides just … reaffirmed that they believe that American citizens can be killed on the order of the President anywhere including the United States.

    … You’ve got a president who says that he can kill you on his own discretion. He can jail you indefinitely on his own discretion. And the response of the America is one big collective shrug and yawn.

    I don’t think the the Framers would ever anticipated that. They truly believed that citizens would hold their liberties close, and that they wouldn’t relax those fingers. But they are.

    From his bio:

    He has served as a consultant on homeland security and constitutional issues, and is a frequent witness before the House and Senate on constitutional and statutory issues as well as tort reform legislation. He also is a nationally recognized legal commentator; he ranked 38th in the top 100 most cited ‘public intellectuals’ in a recent study by Judge Richard Posner and was found to be the second most cited law professor in the country.

  7. Its become a campaign issue. The republican’s stand is accelerating Obama’s usurpation.

    Gingrich Leads Revolt Against Judges“, Bloomberg, 21 December 2011 — Opening:

    Newt Gingrich, who says as president he would ignore U.S. Supreme Court rulings he dislikes, has plenty of company among Republican candidates in vowing to blow up long-held premises of constitutional law.Rick Perry is calling for judicial term limits. Michele Bachmann says she would invite a confrontation with the court over abortion. Ron Paul would bar federal judges from hearing many cases involving abortion, same-sex marriage and religion.

    Near the end of the same article:

    Republicans could suffer under Gingrich’s approach. The candidate’s reasoning would mean President Barack Obama could try to ignore the Supreme Court next year, should the justices declare the 2010 health-care law unconstitutional, George said.

    1. Thanks for citing this! I believe this is more accurately seen as a bi-partisan policy to expand the power of government — and escape the shackles of the Constitution. Tactical advantages for one party or the other are immaterial in pursuit of their larger goal.

      James Fallows has written at The Atlantic about another aspect of this quiet coup:

      1. ‘A Process That Is Running Out of Control’: The New Nullification Crisis“, 10 December 2011
      2. The Nullification Chronicles Roll On“, 17 December 2011
    2. (1) “Its become a campaign issue.”

      Perhaps you mean to say “It was a campaign issue, rejected by Republican primary voters.”

      (2) “The republican’s stand is accelerating Obama’s usurpation.”


  8. The 10th amendment was supposed to be a check on the power of the federal government. It has mostly been ignored since FDR and the depression-era New Deal. However, in at least one recent drug law related ruling, it was applied with thel courts saying that California laws decriminalizing certain drugs were upheld by the 10th amendment. Specifically: “California appeals court ruling that said the state’s medical marijuana laws are not pre-empted by the federal Controlled Substances Act.”

    The article’s title says: “SCOTUS Declines to Review Appeals Court Decision Upholding California’s Medical Marijuana Law“, Jacob Sullum, Reason magazine, 7 December 2011. Does this mean that the appeals court decision applies to other states?

    This ruling has mostly been ignored by the federal drug police. Will we see a county sheriff blocking the DEA from embarking on raids on civilians?

    1. Picking one court ruling to gain confidence that the Constitution lives is like seeing one wave recede — and hoping the tide will not come in.

      How many of the first ten ammendments remain in effect? That is, in the sense that they can prevail in court when used to challenge government actions? Has anyone seen research on this question, using LEXIS?

      My belief is that some of the high-profile ones, like the Second, remain alive. Not so much (and less each year) the most important — the first, fourth, and fifth. Many of the others are almost dead letters. Especially the tenth.

  9. Historians will no doubt marvel that we chose “Al Qaeda” as our very own “Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man”,the engine of our destruction, chosen by us, conjured by us, and used by us to destroy ourselves.

    1. If it were done, when ’tis done, then ’twere well
      It were done quickly. If th’ assassination
      Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
      With his surcease, success: that but this blow
      Might be the be-all and the end-all—here,

      But here upon this bank and shoal of time,
      We’d jump the life to come. But in these cases
      We still have judgement here, that we but teach
      Bloody instructions which, being taught, return
      To plague th’inventor. This even-handed justice
      Commends th’ingredience of our poisoned chalice
      To our own lips.

      — Macbeth speaking in Macbeth Act 1, scene 7, 1–7

      FM Note — From e-Notes on this passage:

      Macbeth ponders assassinating King Duncan of Scotland, whose shoes he intends to fill. If simply killing the king were all there was to it, he tells himself, there’d be no problem. But there are bound to be unpredictable and uncontrollable consequences, both in this life (“upon this bank and shoal of time”) and in the “life to come.” Yet he’d “jump” (risk) the spiritual penalties if he could be sure of immediate success here and now.

      A “trammel,” in Shakespeare’s day, most often meant a “fishing net”; “to trammel up” therefore meant to catch up in a trammel net. (Another obsolete sense of “to trammel,” current in the sixteenth century, is “to bind up a corpse”—a sense eerily appropriate here.) When Macbeth doubts whether the assassination could “trammel up the consequence,” therefore, he doubts that the act of killing Duncan will catch up in itself, as in a net, the consequences of that action.

      Macbeth, by the way, seems to have invented the word “assassination”—this is at least the first recorded use.

      We use “the be-all and the end-all” in two rather different ways, neither of which pays much respect to Macbeth’s intention. … Both uses {are roughly} “the last word in the matter”, and pick up on the literal meaning of Macbeth’s words while slighting the context. Macbeth speaks of an action, not a person or thing; he wonders if that action will be all that is required and end all that he must go through to be king.

  10. We will only give up a little freedom so we can be a little safer. Good old Ben had the answer to this.

    “They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety.”
    — From the title page of An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania (1759); written by Richard Jackson and published by Benjamin Franklin

    FM Note: I corrected the quote and the author.

  11. No, it’s not processed food or fluoridation of the water or lack of education. It’s none of those things.

    The plain fact is that the American people have become weary of the burdensome task of governing themselves. They prefer to sit back and play World of Warcraft and let someone else handle the difficult and demanding details of governing them. And there are people aplenty in America ready and willing to do that. People in the Pentagon’s E-Ring, people deep in the bowels of the CIA, people operating torture chambers in secret prisons like the one in Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, people in the Department of Justice who are convinced they know better than any pissant American citizen how to protect the American people. People like the police officer who kills a family’s daughter by running her down while speed in a patrol car with his lights off, who then arrest the family when they become enraged.

    America is lost country, a lost people. We have fallen in love with torture. We dote on murder and celebrate the deaths of innocent people in wedding parties in Afghanistan. Unconcerned with governing ourselves, we have no interest in or grasp of the consequences of our reckless lawless actions…and so Americans have no understanding of the consequences of their own choices.

    Americans have become a foolish people, a trivial people, easily duped, fascinated by mindless pastimes, enraged to towering fury by trifles, quickly distraced, incapable of following through on even the most simple task. Americans are now contemptible moral and intellectual pygmies who delude themselves into fantasizing that they are about to enter a magnificent new world of streamlined governance where the pesky annoyances like the rule of law and evidence have been flensed away, leaving a superefficient 21st-century system of government.

    In reality, Americans have abandoned the foundations of civilized society since Hammurabi, and having sown the wind, they will reap the whirldwind. When you abandon civilized society, the result is barbarism. And it’s not pretty.

    Generations from now, after the killing fields have been uncovered and the torturers dragged out of their torture chambers and hung from the lampposts by their victims, and after the last of the collaborators have been hauled in chains before people’s tribunals to face screaming mobs of their victims, American will weep for what they have lost. But, of course, by then it’ll be too late. Once you abandon the rule of law and evidence and the presumption of innocence, you don’t just give up trifling accoutrements to an overly-complex legal system: you give up civilization. And when you enter that magnificent new world, you find yourself dragged into a soccer stadium at gunpoint where masked informers point to you, and then you get hung from a pole and tortured with electrical devices until you die. But not until you’ve named your family and all your friends as Enemies of the State.

    It is said that those who believe absurdities, commit atrocities. If so, tremble for the American populace.

    1. This is a remarkable day for me. Please note this excerpt from the most important articles on the FM website, Forecast: Death of the American Constitution, posted on 4 July 2006:

      We have traded liberty for promises of equality, security, and prosperity. The cost is our Constitution. Everything has a price. We have become consumers, clients of the government, instead of citizens. This deprives the Constitution of its power source, its life. Once a people come to believe that governing themselves is too difficult or burdensome, someone will volunteer to take this load from them. After that happens there is no point in crying about the consequences.

      Since then I have said this many times, in many ways. Hundreds of comments have been posted in reply. Some saying all is well. Most giving excuses or assigning blame to someone other than the citizens.

      Only know has someone posted a comment agreeing with me. And Mclaren, after so many disagreements between us.

      Interesting times.

  12. “Let me tell [you] what drives my thinking here. I think we’re at war. I don’t think it, I believe it.”

    That was all I needed to hear. Such is the reasoning of a dangerous ideologue.

    Terrifying indeed. Thank you FM for bringing this tidbit of insanity to light as an example.

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