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'Best' [Worst] Executive & Congress That Big Biz and $/Power Can 'Buy' = USA Today
#1
By Michael Collins
Part I of III

First published at Daily Censored

WASHINGTON - Selected to run by the powerful and wealthy, promising the public one thing and delivering another after elected, the President of the United States is the focus of a new political doctrine - the unitary executive. The office of the president has rapidly become a law unto itself over the past ten years. (Image)

Some time before February 2010, the President of the United States authorized the assassination of a U.S. citizen living overseas. The citizen was identified by the White House as a terrorist.

Unlike previous government programs to kill individuals overseas, this one wasn't a covert operation. The program was openly announced, without qualification. Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence, discussed the plan in February at a congressional hearing. A few weeks later, John O. Brennan, the president's National Security Adviser, announced that the marked man was one of "dozens" of U.S. citizens put on the presidential death list because "they are very concerning to us."

The principal of unfettered executive power, absent political and judicial restraint, was officially established. Executive power now supersedes established law.

We have come to the point where the president can openly designate a U.S. citizen as a terrorist removing all rights, including the right to life. The administration implied that this was for overseas targets only. But recall that the illegal wiretapping program was originally for overseas calls only. It rapidly spread to domestic surveillance as well.

We have laws that require investigations, indictments, and trials prior to applying any sentence, let alone the death penalty. Those laws were cast aside, replaced by executive fiat.

Who spoke out against this assumption of executive prerogative? Very few. What is the next step?

Will terrorists designated by the executive branch be targeted for execution in what is now referred to as the homeland?

This open proclamation of lawlessness by the president was asserted and accepted without so much as a whimper by the other branches of government, political leaders, and the mainstream media.

War Making and other Lawlessness

The broadest premeditated program of lawlessness by the executive branch concerns war making. The U.S. has not declared a war since World War II when President Franklin D. Roosevelt gained congressional approval for declarations of war against Japan and Germany in December, 1941, then Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania in June, 1942.

The military efforts in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq, for example, were all wars. Yet, with one exception, every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt committed the nation to war or the continuation of war without the required congressional declaration.

The Constitution couldn't be more explicit. Only Congress has the power to declare war: "The Congress shall have power to … Declare war …" (Article I, Section 8). Calling a war by another name does not justify bypassing the requirement for congressional action. It's still a war. Yet the governing law, the U.S. Constitution, has been ignored time and again.

This is the ultimate lawlessness. It invokes the major efforts of people, material, and ongoing expenditures. These wars result in injuries, deaths, and destruction in the nations attacked and injury and death to U.S. citizens unlawfully committed. In addition, the wars fuel substantial ill will and hostility toward the United States.

Congress has been consulted, so to speak, about these wars. Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, for example, President Bush had to prove that Iraq was an imminent danger to the United States. The intelligence community produced a report that wrongly indicated that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But the only scenario listed for a Saddam Hussein attack on the U.S. was in the case that the U.S. attacked Iraq; the very act the president asked Congress to authorize due to an imminent danger that never existed.

In addition, the pretext for war, 9/11, was bolstered with hysterical fear-mongering that the non existent weapons of mass destruction would be used here. No credible finding was (or has been) made that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11 and George W. Bush has explicitly denied any connection.

This illegal invasion and undeclared war were based on a deliberate lie, a 180 degree reversal of the intelligence report used to justify a preemptive invasion. Lying in order to launch an invasion is a crime. Nothing was done to punish the lying by the president and nothing much was said by those in power to indicate that a war based on lies needed to be stopped.

Disregard for the law continued after the invasion. Security threats created by the invasion were used as the rationale for presidential license to violate established law. The secret, illegal wiretapping of citizens by the Bush administration violated multiple U.S. laws protecting a citizen's right to privacy.

The torture of prisoners captured in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars was another presidential act in full defiance of established law. Rather than provide information, the unlawful techniques actually inspired greater resistance.

Architecture of a Totalitarian State

The architecture of a totalitarian state is almost fully in place and the lawless implementation is accelerating. While the Bush violations of the Constitution and various federal codes were greeted with shock in some quarters, the staid declaration of a presidential assassination order by Nobel Peace Prize winner, President Barack Obama, was met with virtually no resistance by Congress.

The president, can point to congressional authorization for its acts and judicial tolerance when those acts are challenged. But that doesn't change the fact that the Constitution and the laws it embodies and protects have been savaged.

We are ruled by a lawless executive branch, by presidents who routinely ignore the law. The chief executive in our system is unchecked.

Presidents also make sure that others are never held accountable for these lawless acts, including their predecessors from the opposition party. It is a perpetual and predictable process of occasional feigned concern that masks a profound indifference to the law and protects those who do the most damage through that indifference.

Those with any doubts about a lawless nation need only refer to the suit filed against the presidential assassination program. Two civil rights groups seek to stop the program based on long-standing and clear U.S. and international law.

The administration's response was that the suit should be dismissed since a trial would require the release of state "secrets", i.e., the reasons and motives for their extra-judicial murders and how their information was obtained. The executive branch simply declares that its decisions are beyond any review. Our current president continues to animate the unitary executive Frankenstein created by Addington, Bybee, and Yoo.

Unfettered executive power is allowed by an enabling Congress and a complicit federal judiciary. The three branches of government form a seamless whole of self-supporting lawlessness.
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WASHINGTON - Placed in office through legalized bribery, supported by public funding for their every need, protected against the laws that we're expected to obey, Congress represents the epitome of lawlessness; lawmakers who have no regard for the law. (Image)

Members of Congress are different. They get to retire at age 62 with lifetime pensions and health benefits. To qualify, they need just five years of service. They get free phone, mail, and other communications plus paid domestic and foreign travel. Supposedly, they're not allowed to take gifts but the list of exceptions offers plenty of room for luxurious appreciation.

The biggest gift of all - a six to seven figure job with a major corporation or lobbying firm right after retirement - is still fair game for any member. The revolving door never stops.

But supposedly Congress passes laws for the public benefit. They come to power based on contributions from their patrons, usually large donors. Then members resolutely deny that these contributions translate into legislation favorable to the donors. If pressed, member's state that the contributions merely buy access not votes.

In fact, members routinely vote the interests of their largest patrons. Thus, the contributions are a form of legalized bribery ("a favor or promise given to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust.").

The financial industry contributed hundreds of millions to current members. When Wall Street was about to fail in late 2008, they called in their markers and got an immediate bailout of $700 billion and "total potential Federal Government support (that) could reach up to $23.7 trillion" from the Federal Reserve and other government sources. This was in the midst of the 2008 federal election cycle when members solicited funds from the very people they bailed out.

Would this have happened without years of contributions by the financial industry?

What other incentives were involved that were not revealed?

The people face a health care crisis of epic proportions, losing insurance, under coverage for life threatening conditions. They have to delay or cease medication due to ever rising costs. Health care is unaffordable to many.

Congress addressed the problem much like they did the financial crisis. A bill was passed that left health insurance companies at the center of health care taking a handsome profit for doing little to nothing. Prior to passage of the health bill, the insurers raised rates shamelessly and did so again after the legislation was enacted, using the very health reform passed for the people to gouge the people for more money.

In the midst of total unemployment at about 20%, with the poverty on the rise, what has Congress done? The vast majority of citizens get little or not attention while those who cause the financial meltdown are handsomely rewarded. Members of Congress fret that they simply can't get the votes to help the people. But we know different.

It's planned failure that serves their wealthy donors. That's not a system of laws. It's an oligarchy with a strong dose of kleptocracy.

Congress routinely ignores the Constitution. Article I outlines "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress." Section 8 of the article lists this power: "To declare War." When presidents make war without congressional authorization, Congress passes legislation that negates its war making powers in order to legitimize the illegal act by the executive branch.

These wars are funded by Congress even when a war was found to be based on lies, as was the case in Iraq. Congress continues to fund the efforts claiming it is necessary to protect the troops. They fail to acknowledge that the absence of illegal wars harmful to the nation is the best troop protection available.

With the illegal wars underway, Congress passes legislation to address the problems created by the illegal wars in the name of national security. As they do this, the real issues of national security, the legal rights of citizens and the economic well being of the nation, are violated or ignored.

A key function of Congress is oversight and investigation. When the nation was attacked on 9/11, the hapless response by the executive branch was on full display. A 2002 House - Senate Joint Committee detailed the extensive government knowledge of the emerging plot over years without effective executive action to stop it. Nothing came of the report. It is as though it never occurred.

When the 9/11 Commission was finally established, Congress allowed a former Bush administration insider to serve as the executive director and appointed co-chairmen who thought that the executive director was just fine. It came as no surprise when a thoroughly inadequate report was produced with key sections blacked out.

Illegal wars, the stripping of fundamental rights like habeas corpus, the declaration that presidents have the right to assassinate U.S. citizens by executive order, the rendering of charges without having to specify those charges were all ratified by Congress. It must be legal. Didn't Congress pass a law?

But they couldn't do this without the full cooperation of the judicial branch of government. Surely, our Supreme Court and federal judiciary are the last bastion of the law that is to protect us all.

Even if that were the case, the sheer weight of executive and legislative lawlessness presents an overwhelming tide that is irresistible to those in power. The seamless system of self-supporting lawlessness is an efficient structure denying citizen rights by mocking the laws of the nation.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
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