S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Protection Against Lawlessness.

Feeling unprotected from those who refuse to obey the law is becoming, unfortunately, more familiar to me. And I do not like that feeling. It is disconcerting, irritating and anxiety producing. We are a nation of laws under which we all are bound. I cannot pick and choose which ones apply to me, nor can the highest official in the land. Today's post will explore a few pertinent examples of what is currently going on.

Second Downing Street Mem0 - A recent book, cited in The Washington Note, is titled, "Lawless World: America and the Breaking of Global Rules" by Philippe Sands, UK Edition. This is the author who talks about discussions between our current president and British PM Tony Blair on January 31 of 2003, just prior to the invasion of Iraq. It became known as the "second resolution" meeting, with speculations on how Saddam Hussein might be provoked through deception into aggression. This "second Downing Street memo" has been the subject of much recent news, about whether lawlessness characterized the President's taking of the U.S. into the current war in Iraq.

Supreme Court re enemy combatants - The Supreme Court took actions recently that warn the administration that it does not have a free hand in the way it legally handles suspected "enemy combatants." Linda Greenhouse, writing for the New York Times, reports that,
WASHINGTON, April 3 — Jose Padilla, the American citizen held for more than three years in military custody as an enemy combatant, fell one vote short on Monday of persuading the Supreme Court to take his case.
Four votes are necessary for the court to take a case, and Mr. Padilla's appeal received only three. The result was to leave standing a decision by the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., that endorsed the government's power to seize a citizen on United States soil and keep him in open-ended detention.
Nonetheless, the outcome was not the unalloyed victory for the Bush administration that it might have appeared to be. Three justices who voted not to hear the case — Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and John Paul Stevens, along with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. — filed an unusual opinion explaining their position. They noted
that Mr. Padilla, who is now out of military custody and awaiting trial in federal district court in Miami on terrorism-related charges, was entitled to a criminal defendant's full range of protections, including the right to a speedy trial.
Most significant, the three justices warned the administration that the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, stood ready to intervene "were the government to seek to change the status or conditions of Padilla's custody."
Danger to Iraqis - The situation in Iraq is still quite perilous. "Chris in Paris" at AMERICAblog posts about self-protection trends with Iraqi citizens. Citing Yahoo!News, Chris' source, I quote,

Iraqis are being targeted at an unprecedented rate. Wary of the ability of police and soldiers to provide protection, civilians are attempting to provide their own security, relying on neighbors and family or hiring armed guards.
March was the second-deadliest month in the past year for civilians, according to the Iraqi Coalition Casualty Count, an independent organization that tracks war fatalities. The group uses news reports and other sources to track the deaths.
Some of the latest violence can be traced to the Feb. 22 attack on a Shiite mosque in
Samarra. The attack touched off an unprecedented wave of violence, much of it involving sectarian militias.
In the 29-day period following the mosque attack, 955 people were murdered in Baghdad province, which includes the capital city and its outskirts, according to the U.S. military.
Rights to privacy unprotected - U.S. citizens are also unable to protect themselves . . . from privacy invasion that is probably illegal. We intuitively knew this was going on, and the GAO has now issued a report with corroberating evidence. It says that citizen privacy is regularly invaded by government contractors who collect dossiers on us. The WaPo has the story,
Government agencies that use private information services for law enforcement, counterterrorism and other investigations often do not follow federal rules to protect Americans' privacy, according to a report yesterday by the Government Accountability Office.
The Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security and two other agencies examined by the GAO spent about $30 million last year on companies that maintain billions of electronic files about adults' current and past addresses, family members and associates, buying habits, personal finances, listed and unlisted phone numbers, and much more.
But those agencies often do not limit the collection and use of information about
law-abiding citizens, as required by the Privacy Act of 1974 and other laws. The agencies also don't ensure the accuracy of the information they are buying, according to the GAO report. That's in part because of a lack of clear guidance from the agencies and the Office of Management and Budget on guidelines known as "fair information practices," the report said.
DeLay protects himself - Congressman Tom DeLay has, we are delighted to hear from his own lips, resigned from his Texas Representative House seat, probably for his own self-protection. He has become more and more at risk legally as his associates agree to talk to prosecutors handling the lobbying scandal. Appearing on MSNBC and CNN, the disgraces lawmaker sounded unapologetic, sanctimonious, and hateful of Democrats. He blamed the party for all his problems. Here is what his Democratic opponent has to say to the district's voters. I quote Nick Lampson's letter following the announcement,

From day one, I have been running this race because Southeast Texans need a congressman who will make headlines for the right reasons. I have spent the past several weeks talking to voters about my vision for stronger homeland security, plans to provide for NASA and cutting our massive debt and deficit. I will continue to push these issues from now until November.
Erosion of obedience to protections in the framework of laws is insidious and progressive, particularly when it is the model set forth by the highest officials in the nation. It must be stopped. The people are sovereign in the U.S.A., since 1776.

My "creative post" today at Southwest Blogger is about clutter.

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