Quote of the Day: "If I want to be free from any other man's dictation, I must understand that I can have no other man under my control." -- William Graham Sumner (1840-1910) Source: "The Forgotten Man and Other Essays," 1919
Subject: Will seven years of damage to civil liberties be reversed?
We heard it repeatedly: "Change we can believe in." That's what the President-elect promised. Do you expect it?
Well, we're going to demand it.
Our civil liberties were trashed during the last seven years.
Habeas Corpus. Torture. Warrantless spying. And more. Where do we begin? For one thing . . .
We want President Obama to tell us the magnitude of the Bush Administration's warrantless spying on Americans.
In 2005 the New York Times exposed the so-called "Terrorist Surveillance Program." They had to rush the story to publish the story before the Bush Administration could stop it with an injunction. The story scared the Bush administration. And rightly so.
They were breaking the law. Someone should've gone to jail. But the Bush Administration had cajones -- big brass ones.
First, they stonewalled, misdirected, and refused to provide documents to Congress. They even subpoenaed the phone records of the investigating reporters.
Then they demanded that Congress legalize their crimes retroactively, and immunize the phone companies that had conspired with them.
It took two years, but the Bush administration got what it wanted.
First, they had to wait for an election to provide a Congressional majority of "change Democrats." It was the Democrats who gave the president his "get out of jail free card."
One notable "change Democrat" showed us what change really means. His name was Barack Obama. He changed from his 2006 stance and voted to give President Bush the unconstitutional powers and immunity from prosecution that President Bush so desperately wanted and needed.
Call me cynical, but perhaps the aspiring President Obama was looking ahead and decided he wanted those powers too. If so, it may be wishful thinking to hope that our "change" president will tell us where the bodies are buried -- even though he could simply direct his team to do so. But actually, our hopes are more well-founded.
To begin with, we could get an accounting from whistleblowers. As our coalition partner, Caroline Frederickson at the ACLU, told the New York Times, "I'd bet there are a lot of career employees in the intelligence agencies who'll be glad to see Obama take the oath so they can finally speak out against all this illegal spying and get back to their real mission."
And the Times has also reported that, "New Yorker investigative reporter Seymour Hersh already has a slew of sources waiting to spill the Bush administration's darkest secrets. 'You cannot believe how many people have told me to call them on January 20.' said Hersh."
If the whistleblowers step forward, then all we need is simply for President Obama to stay out of the way. That would be sufficient "change" in this instance.
Second, there are going to be some "musical chairs" that will "change" the leadership of various Senate Committees. CQ reports, "John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., might give up the Intelligence gavel to take the helm at the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. If that happens, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. is likely to chair the Intelligence panel."
Senator Rockefeller was too accommodating to the Bush Administration. Senator Feinstein is no friend of civil liberties, but she's been better than Rockefeller.
So "change" is possible, and will become more possible if we continue to push for it. Perhaps we all need to say, "Yes, we can!"
The best way to continue to apply pressure for real change is to ask for a complete reversal of President Bush's trashing of our civil liberties. The best way to do that is to constantly pressure Congress to pass Ron Paul's "American Freedom Agenda Act."
This bill is so good that it's supported by progressives, conservatives, and libertarians.
Use your personal comments to remind them that the election was about change, so change it what you want. Bush's policies were repudiated, so they should also be repealed. The "American Freedom Agenda Act" does that.
Remember, stay tuned to these Dispatches. On Friday we plan to announce an exciting new project that will increase the speed at which the Downsize DC Army grows.
And thank you for being a part of that army.