Is Government Ever Faithful To The Constitution?

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When the government is waving at us with its right hand, so to speak, it is the government’s left hand that we should be watching. Just as a magician draws your attention to what he wants you to see so you will not observe how his trick is performed, last week presented a textbook example of public disputes masking hidden deceptions. Here is what happened.

Last week was dominated by two huge news stories. One was the revelation by the Senate Intelligence Committee of torture committed by CIA agents and contractors on 119 detainees in the post-9/11 era — 26 of whom were tortured for months by mistake. In that revelation of anguish and error were the conclusions by CIA agents themselves that their torture had not produced helpful information. President Barack Obama acknowledged that the CIA had tortured; yet he directed the Department of Justice not to prosecute those who tortured and those who authorized it.

The other substantial news story was the compromise achieved by Congress and the White House to fund the government through the end of September 2015. That legislation, which is 2,000 pages in length, was not read by anyone who voted for it. It spends a few hundred billion dollars more than the government will collect in tax revenue. The compromise was achieved through bribery; members of Congress bought and sold votes by adding goodies (in the form of local expenditures of money borrowed by the federal government) to the bill that were never debated or independently voted upon and were added solely to achieve the votes needed for passage. This is how the federal government operates today. Both parties participate in it. They have turned the public treasury into a public trough.

Hidden in the law that authorized the government to spend more than it will collect was a part about funding for the 16 federal civilian intelligence agencies. And hidden in that was a clause, inserted by the same Senate Intelligence Committee that revealed the CIA torture, authorizing the National Security Agency to gather and retain nonpublic data for five years and to share it with law enforcement and with foreign governments. “Nonpublic data” is the government’s language referring to the content of the emails, text messages, telephone calls, bank statements, utility bills, and credit card bills of nearly every innocent person in America — including members of Congress, federal judges, public officials, and law enforcement officials. I say “innocent” because the language of this legislation — which purports to make lawful the NSA spying we now all know about — makes clear that those who spy upon us needn’t have any articulable suspicion or probable cause for spying.

The need for articulable suspicion and probable cause has its origins in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which was written to prohibit what Congress just authorized. That amendment was a reaction to the brutish British practice of rummaging through the homes of American colonists, looking for anything that might be illegal. It is also a codification of our natural right to privacy. It requires that if the government wants nonpublic data from our persons, houses, papers or effects, it must first present evidence of probable cause to a judge and then ask the judge for a search warrant.

Probable cause is a level of evidence that is sufficient to induce a judge into concluding that it is more likely than not that the place to be examined contains evidence of crimes. In order to seek probable cause, the government must first have an articulable suspicion about the person or place it has targeted. Were this not in the law, then nothing would stop the government from fishing expeditions in pursuit of anyone it wants to pursue. And fishing expeditions turn the presumption of liberty on its head. The presumption of liberty is based on the belief that our rights are natural to us and that we may exercise them without a permission slip from the government and without its surveillance.

Until last week, that is. Last week, Congress, by authorizing the massive NSA spying to continue and by authorizing the spies to share what they have seized with law enforcement, basically permitted the fishing expeditions that the Fourth Amendment was written to prevent.

How can the president and Congress defy the Constitution, you might ask? Hasn’t every member of the government taken an oath to uphold the Constitution? Doesn’t the Constitution create the presidency and the Congress? How can politicians purport to change it?

The answers to these questions are obvious, as is the belief of most of those in government that they can write any law and regulate any behavior and ignore the Constitution they have sworn to uphold whenever they want, so long as they can get away with it.

 
COPYRIGHT 2014 ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO
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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

All I Want For Christmas Is A (Real) Government Shutdown

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The political class breathed a sigh of relief Saturday when the US Senate averted a government shutdown by passing the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill. This year’s omnibus resembles omnibuses of Christmas past in that it was drafted in secret, was full of special interest deals and disguised spending increases, and was voted on before most members could read it.

The debate over the omnibus may have made for entertaining political theater, but the outcome was never in doubt. Most House and Senate members are so terrified of another government shutdown that they would rather vote for a 1,774-page bill they have not read than risk even a one or two-day government shutdown.

Those who voted for the omnibus to avoid a shutdown fail to grasp that the consequences of blindly expanding government are far worse than the consequences of a temporary government shutdown. A short or even long-term government shutdown is a small price to pay to avoid an economic calamity caused by Congress’ failure to reduce spending and debt.

The political class’ shutdown phobia is particularly puzzling because a shutdown only closes 20 percent of the federal government. As the American people learned during the government shutdown of 2013, the country can survive with 20 percent less government.

Instead of panicking over a limited shutdown, a true pro-liberty Congress would be eagerly drawing up plans to permanently close most of the federal government, staring with the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve’s inflationary policies not only degrade the average American’s standard of living; they also allow Congress to run up huge deficits. Congress should take the first step toward restoring a sound monetary policy by passing the Audit the Fed bill, so the American people can finally learn the truth about the Fed’s operations.

Second on the chopping block should be the Internal Revenue Service. The federal government is perfectly capable of performing its constitutional functions without imposing a tyrannical income tax system on the American people.

America’s militaristic foreign policy should certainly be high on the shutdown list. The troops should be brought home, all foreign aid should be ended, and America should pursue a policy of peace and free trade with all nations. Ending the foreign policy of hyper-interventionism that causes so many to resent and even hate America will increase our national security.

All programs that spy on or otherwise interfere with the private lives of American citizens should be shutdown. This means no more TSA, NSA, or CIA, as well as an end to all federal programs that promote police militarization. The unconstitutional war on drugs should also end, along with the war on raw milk.

All forms of welfare should be shut down, starting with those welfare programs that benefit the wealthy and the politically well connected. Corporate welfare, including welfare for the military-industrial complex that masquerades as “defense spending,” should be first on the chopping block. Welfare for those with lower incomes could be more slowly phased out to protect those who have become dependent on those programs.

The Department of Education should be permanently padlocked. This would free American schoolchildren from the dumbed-down education imposed by Common Core and No Child Left Behind. Of course, Obamacare, and similar programs, must be shut down so we can finally have free-market health care.

Congress could not have picked a worse Christmas gift for the American people than the 1,774-page omnibus spending bill. Unfortunately, we cannot return this gift. But hopefully someday Congress, will give us the gift of peace, prosperity, and liberty by shutting down the welfare-warfare state.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

WATCH: Judge Jeanine Rips Senate ‘Apologists’ Whose Actions She Calls ‘Dangerous’ To America

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Dick Cheney wasn’t the only one who took to TV over the weekend with an impassioned defense of CIA “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the post 9/11 atmosphere of fear and apprehension about terrorist attacks on America.

On her Fox News show, Judge Jeanine Pirro cut loose with both barrels in her condemnation of the Senate Intelligence Committee report just released by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and her fellow Democrats.

Judge Jeanine blasted the Feinstein-led committee for its “obvious political gamesmanship,” taking angry aim directly at the California Democrat:

These are our enemies. Their mission is to kill us. So while their Allah says, ‘Kill the infidel,’ you and your Senate Democrats say we need to be kinder and gentler to them.

While Judge Jeanine issued her hard-hitting attack on what she called the “dangerous” actions of Feinstein and the other “apologists” in the Senate, former Vice President Cheney continued his fierce defense of harsh CIA interrogation tactics, saying flatly that he “would do it again in a minute” because the techniques worked in our obtaining actionable intel.

Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Cheney pushed back hard against critics of the CIA’s actions:

“Torture is what the al Qaeda terrorists did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11,” Cheney said on NBC’s Meet The Press. “There is no comparison between that and what we did with respect to enhanced interrogation.”

By clicking on the video above, you can see Judge Jeanine Pirro’s no-nonsense defense of the CIA interrogators, saying “they have the high moral ground.”

 

Image Credit: Fox News

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

WATCH: The Former VP Takes Off The Gloves In His Attack On Senate Dems For Their ‘Crap’ CIA Report

Cheney play button

Among the latest reactions to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s so-called “Torture Report” on the CIA’s terrorist interrogation techniques is one just issued by the Russian government — a harsh condemnation of the intelligence-gathering methods the report describes.

The New York Times says that the regime of Vladimir Putin wasted no time in claiming that the document released by Senate Democrats provided “confirmation of gross, systemic human rights violations by the American authorities.”

“We are urging the human rights community and responsible international organizations and structures to seek from Washington the disclosure of the full spectrum of information about human rights abuses committed in the framework of this ‘global war on terror’ and to bring those guilty to justice.”

Presumably, one of those Russia wants prosecuted and brought to “justice” is the man who talked extensively with Fox News’ anchor Bret Baier on Wednesday evening — former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Cheney was blunt, direct and unwavering in his broad critique of the Senate document and of the Democrats behind its preparation and release. In the exclusive “Special Report” interview, the number-two man in the administration of George W. Bush called the results of the committee’s investigation “deeply flawed” and strewn with “lies.”

Cheney defended the CIA’s efforts in the post 9/11 period and said it was successful — “they did a helluva job” — summing up the Senate Democrats’ partisan investigation in six words: “The report is full of crap.”

You can watch a pithy portion of the Vice President’s interview with Bret Baier by clicking on the video above.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

WATCH What This Outraged Ex-CIA Official Just Said About Hypocritical ‘Kill From A Distance’ Obama

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The Senate Intelligence Committee’s so-called “CIA Torture Report” continues to draw heavy fire from Republicans as well as current and former officials with the spy agency.

GOP lawmakers point out the controversial report was prepared exclusively by Democrats on the committee, as Republicans had refused to contribute to the majority document that they felt drew unfair conclusions because of faulty and incomplete investigation.

Critics note that Democrats failed to interview anyone in the CIA directly involved in the enhanced interrogation programs before concluding they were ineffective in helping to gather actionable intelligence.

Critics also say the very same lawmakers who now condemn the CIA’s handling of past intelligence gathering were fully briefed on agency techniques through the years and even supported what CIA operatives were doing.

As The New York Times reports, a dozen former top officials of the Central Intelligence Agency have launched a website defending the CIA’s actions — ciasavedlives.com.

The program’s outspoken defenders say the C.I.A. was advised that its methods were not torture, that the program played a critical role in dismantling Al Qaeda and that the interrogators deserve praise, not vilification.

The website launched in response to the Senate committee’s scathing report pushes back vigorously against the document and offers a detailed defense of the agency’s actions post 9/11.

The recently released Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) Majority report…represents the single worst example of Congressional oversight in our many years of government service.

On his Fox News show Tuesday night, Sean Hannity spoke with a very angry former CIA official who said, “It’s a very dark day for the CIA.”

Jose Rodriguez, the one-time Director of the National Clandestine Service, told Hannity, “I think the CIA’s being thrown under the bus.”

By clicking on the video above, you can watch the Rodriguez interview in which he points out that President Obama is perfectly fine with using drones to kill suspected terrorists “from a distance,” while he condemns enhanced interrogation techniques having been used on detainees captured alive and imprisoned.

 

Image Credit: Fox News

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom