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Pupils Being Given 'Patriotism' Tests in Washington State Schools

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Paul Joseph Watson at printed an article about students in our state (Washington) being given patriotism tests. I'm curious to see if anyone else has seen this questionnaire. If you have, I'm interested in a copy of the questionnaire and any discussions that pertained to it. Specifically, why each question is considered "right" or "wrong" and the purpose behind this questionnaire.

Paul Joseph Watson | December 30 2005

Children in Washington State are being given 'Patriotism tests' which are completely unrelated to their studies. The paper gauges whether or not the student shows fealty to the power of the state and whether the student believes in the right to overthrow a corrupt government.

A reader from Washington State writes us to highlight a questionnaire paper handed out to her daughter and the rest of her 10th grade class.

The reader comments,

"We live in Washington state. My daughter is in 10th grade and found this to be interesting. She has a GPA of 3.75 and uses her brain. This was given in her English class, and has nothing to do with the materials they were studying. We thought you might be able to use this. They are grooming our kids. Keep up the great work. Christine."

The paper is shown below. Click for an enlargement.

Considering the fact that this paper is a complete one off in that it is not part of any standard curriculum, we must question the motivations behind it.

Is the paper a means of gauging the level of obedience to the state amongst American teenagers?

We have covered several examples before where the government identifies a target group in society and canvasses their views on the nature of power and when that power goes too far. For example, in the 90's, American marines and national guard were occasionally asked if they would be willing to fire on American citizens in a time of crisis.

We are by no means against patriotism when it means love of country. Unfortunately however, the new brand of so-called patriotism translates as worship of government, and that definition is something that the founding fathers never intended.

This may be an isolated case but if we receive anything similar then watch this space for any updates.

Now, I get to answer these questions...

1. It is never right to kill another person.

A: Disagree. You always have the right to protect your life and property. If that requires you to take the life of another to preserve your own, then it is justifiable.

2. Political leaders usually act in the best interests of their countries.

A: Disagree. (Assuming by "country" the questionnaire is referring to "people") Politicians usually start their political careers off with good intentions, but then get sucked into the corruption of government. In a few short years, the only concern that draws their attention is who will donate the most to their campaign funds.

3. If a political leader has done something wrong, it is all right to get rid of him or her be whatever means necessary.

A: Agree. Let us quote from The Declaration of Independence: "...whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it... When a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government."

4."Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

A: Agree. This is a time-proven fact. The twentieth century alone is replete with examples.

5. In certain situations it may be justified for a political leader to bend or break the law for the good of the country.

A. Disagree. This is where the argument for "state's compelling interest" springs from. The "compelling interest" argument is just a fancy way for allowing the state to trample on an individual's rights. The state has no higher claim to an individual's right of life liberty, property, happiness, etc.

6. People should never compromise their ideals or beliefs.

A. Agree. Ideals and beliefs are the fabric of our civilized society. If a group of people decided to ignore their consciences, what would stop them from robbing you of all your stuff. Now imagine that same group were your local police department, or your national guard and they thought they had the backing of state authority on their side. They could march right through your neighborhood and slaughter everyone. Chilling!

7. "My country right or wrong" is not just a slogan; it is every citizen's patriotic duty.

A: Disagree. This type of logic is what catapults despots into power. One should always question authority and speak loudly when that authority is acting outside the law or is violating the rights of the people.

8. No cause, political or otherwise, is worth dying for.

A: Disagree. Would you run into a burning house to save your child? Of course you would! Who wouldn't?

9. "Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant taste of death but once."

A: Agree... and Disagree. Wisdom also teaches you to pick your battles. So, I guess it depends on each individual scenario. Do you seize the day or do you walk away? Do you lose the battle to win the war? It really depends on the situation.

10. "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is [often buried] with their bones."

A: Agree (generally). Can we name any good that came from the dictatorships of Pol Pot, Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, or Joseph Stalin? Not without an encyclopedia close at hand. But ask about the horrible atrocities these men committed on their people and the examples will come rushing forth.

A Closer Look: Senate Joint Resolution

Thursday, December 29, 2005

In the last week I've read just about everything I can related to the revelation of the President authorizing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on communications illegally. Someone at the NSA realized that spying on American communications without a court order was illegal, so they leaked it to the press. The New York Times eventually reported it. I say "eventually", because (as reported in their own article) the Bush administration asked them to put a hold on going public with the story for about a year. In the aftermath of the story's release, the Bush administration has been working tirelessly to justify their assertion that their spying was legal and was authorized by Congress. Congress, on the other hand, has refuted this position. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said in a White House briefing that Congress had essentially given President Bush the authority for domestic surveillance after the September 11 attacks. Mr. Gonzales asserts that somewhere in Senate Joint Resolution 23, Authorization for Use of Military Force, there exists the authority for the President to commence unwarranted domestic spying.
When I first read his comments, I was shocked. How could it be possible for the Congress to authorize the President to eavesdrop on conversations within the United States? Congress has never possessed the authority to authorize this type of warrantless domestic surveillance. I decided that a closer inspection of all the details concerning these matters was in order so that I could more fully understand what was happening. To best frame what has transpired, we need to go back to September of 2001 and look at what was happening in our country with respect to the Congress and the President. On the 11th of September, terrorists commandeered airplanes and flew them, save one, into American assets. As a result, American lives were lost. Action was called for to bring those responsible for these acts to justice (and rightly so). On September 14, the President declared a state of emergency, citing the events of the 11th of September. On the 18th of September, the President signed Senate Joint Resolution 23, Authorization for Use of Military Force. Lets stop there as any further history will not serve any useful purpose to our discussion.
Lets look a little closer first at the Declaration of National Emergency, then at the Authorization of Military Force.

Declaration of National Emergency by Reason Of Certain Terrorist Attacks
By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

     A national emergency exists by reason of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, New York, New York, and the Pentagon, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States.

     NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, I hereby declare that the national emergency has existed since September 11, 2001, and, pursuant to the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), I intend to utilize the following statutes:  sections 123, 123a, 527, 2201(c), 12006, and 12302 of title 10, United States Code, and sections 331, 359, and 367 of title 14, United States Code.

     This proclamation immediately shall be published in the Federal Register or disseminated through the Emergency Federal Register, and transmitted to the Congress.

     This proclamation is not intended to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by a party against the United States, its agencies, its officers, or any person.

     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this        fourteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-sixth.

                               GEORGE W. BUSH

                                 # # #

We can go to the Cornell Law School website and look up the statutes cited in this Declaration of National Emergency. When we do this, the intent of the declaration becomes obvious. Listed below are the titles related to each section:
(Suspended sections included for completeness:)
As anyone can plainly see, those sections listed above generally have to do with mustering, maintaining, and financing the armed forces for the protection and defense of our country. The President declared this National Emergency to aid him in putting together an armed force to protect our country and to go after the terrorists.
Lets look now at the Authorization for Use of Military Force the President signed on the 18th of September. According to the Attorney General, this is allegedly part of what gives the President his authority to conduct unwarranted eavesdropping on American citizens.

President Signs Authorization for Use of Military Force bill
Statement by the President

     Today I am signing Senate Joint Resolution 23, the "Authorization for Use of Military Force."

     On September 11, 2001, terrorists committed treacherous and horrific acts of violence against innocent Americans and individuals from other countries.  Civilized nations and people around the world have expressed outrage at, and have unequivocally condemned, these attacks.  Those who plan, authorize, commit, or aid terrorist attacks against the United States and its interests -- including those who harbor terrorists -- threaten the national security of the United States.  It is, therefore, necessary and appropriate that the United States exercise its rights to defend itself and protect United States citizens both at home and abroad.

      In adopting this resolution in response to the latest terrorist acts committed against the United States and the continuing threat to the United States and its citizens from terrorist activities, both Houses of Congress have acted wisely, decisively, and in the finest traditions of our country.  I thank the leadership of both Houses for their role in expeditiously passing this historic joint resolution.  I have had the benefit of meaningful consultations with members of the Congress since the attacks of September 11, 2001, and I will continue to consult closely with them as our Nation responds to this threat to our peace and security.

      Senate Joint Resolution 23 recognizes the seriousness of the terrorist threat to our Nation and the authority of the President under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of terrorism against the United States.  In signing this resolution, I maintain the longstanding position of the executive branch regarding the President's constitutional authority to use force, including the Armed Forces of the United States and regarding the constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution.

      Our whole Nation is unalterably committed to a direct, forceful, and comprehensive response to these terrorist attacks and the scourge of terrorism directed against the United States and its interests.

                                 GEORGE W. BUSH

                                 THE WHITE HOUSE,

                                 September 18, 2001.

# # #

This statement by the President refers to Senate Joint Resolution 23, Authorization for Use of Military Force, but it doesn't actually state what that resolution says. To remedy this shortcoming, I'll reprint the resolution (with citations) for you below. But first, I want to highlight a comment the President made in his statement. He said, "In signing this resolution, I maintain the longstanding position of the executive branch regarding the President's constitutional authority to use force, including the Armed Forces of the United States and regarding the constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution." The President acknowledges the following facts:
  • the term force, as used in SJR23, indicates a "body (as of troops or ships) assigned to a military purpose", because the President qualified the term force in his statement by saying, "force, including the Armed Forces of the United States",
  • whatever actions he undertakes with the Military Forces, he must always be within the boundaries placed upon him by our Constitution,
  • he is also bound to the rules of the War Powers Resolution.
We'll look at each of these as we go along. Now to the Senate Joint Resolution:
Authorization for Use of Military Force (Enrolled as Agreed to or Passed by Both House and Senate)



One Hundred Seventh Congress

of the

United States of America


Begun and held at the City of Washington on Wednesday,

the third day of January, two thousand and one

Joint Resolution

To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.

Whereas, on September 11, 2001, acts of treacherous violence were committed against the United States and its citizens; and

Whereas, such acts render it both necessary and appropriate that the United States exercise its rights to self-defense and to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad; and

Whereas, in light of the threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by these grave acts of violence; and

Whereas, such acts continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States; and

Whereas, the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States: Now, therefore, be it

    Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This joint resolution may be cited as the 'Authorization for Use of Military Force'.


    (a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

    (b) War Powers Resolution Requirements-

      (1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution [50 U.S.C. 1547 (a)(1)], the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution [50 U.S.C. 1544 (b)].

      (2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this resolution supercedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution [50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.].

Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Vice President of the United States and

President of the Senate.

Some notes of construction must be clarified before we continue. When you read the above "Whereas" statements, they have no legal force in law. They're as useful as window dressing. The only legally operative language in the Senate Joint Resolution follows the sentence: "Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled..." Also, when we are trying to understand what Congress wanted to accomplish when it passed a bill or resolution, we can go back to their debates to see what was said about the various sections, etc. This is important for us to do when making a determination of their original intentions. This is what happens when a question of "constitutionality" arises. Courts often refer to The Federalist Papers, The Anti-Federalist Papers, and the Constitutional Debates that occurred at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia.
Section 2, above, sites three sections of the United States Code for "specific statutory authorization" to fulfill their War Powers Resolution requirements. I'll list them below:
(a) Inferences from any law or treaty
Authority to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situations wherein involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances shall not be inferred--
(1) from any provision of law (whether or not in effect before November 7, 1973), including any provision contained in any appropriation Act, unless such provision specifically authorizes the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into such situations and states that it is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of this chapter.
(b) Termination of use of United States Armed Forces; exceptions; extension period
Within sixty calendar days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 1543 (a)(1) of this title, whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), unless the Congress
(1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces,
(2) has extended by law such sixty-day period, or
(3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States. Such sixty-day period shall be extended for not more than an additional thirty days if the President determines and certifies to the Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces.
(a) Congressional declaration
It is the purpose of this chapter to fulfill the intent of the framers of the Constitution of the United States and insure that the collective judgment of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and to the continued use of such forces in hostilities or in such situations.
(b) Congressional legislative power under necessary and proper clause
Under article I, section 8, of the Constitution, it is specifically provided that the Congress shall have the power to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution, not only its own powers but also all other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer hereof.
(c) Presidential executive power as Commander-in-Chief; limitation
The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to
(1) a declaration of war,
(2) specific statutory authorization, or
(3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.
After reading all the information I've provided, one can hardly draw any other conclusion than that the intent of Congress was to authorize the President to introduce the United States Armed Forces into hostilities. To more clearly illustrate my point, we can see from the citations above:
50USC1547(a) says, "Authority to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities..."
50USC1547(a)(1) says, "...specifically authorizes the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities..."
50USC1544(b) says, "...the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces..."
50USC1544(b)(1) says, "...a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces..."
50USC1541(a) says, "...the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities..."
50USC1541(c) says, "The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities..."
The intent of the War Powers Resolutions was to set down clear and specific guidelines for Congress and the President when introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities. I believe what Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and assistant attorney general for Congressional Affairs William Moschella are claiming is that Congress authorized the President to "use all necessary and appropriate force (i.e. energy brought to bear)" when, in fact, they hadn't. For one thing, it is not the job of the executive branch to interpret the laws. Their job is to enforce them. If there is a question about the intentions of Congress, they can ask Congress. If they really need clarification, the judiciary can be called upon to sort things out. Secondly, I believe Alberto Gonzales is bending definitions to facilitate a power-grab for the President. Let me illustrate what I mean. We need to deconstruct the sentence, "the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force".
The argument being put forth is that the President has been authorized [by Congress] to use all force. Fine. What type of force? Well, from the resolution we can see that Congress qualified the word force with necessary and appropriate. Let's go ahead and define these three words using Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary (because they're not already defined in law as it pertains to Title 50, Chapter 33--War Powers Resolutions):
Function: adjective
1 a : of an inevitable nature : INESCAPABLE b (1) : logically unavoidable (2) : that cannot be denied without contradiction c : determined or produced by the previous condition of things d : COMPULSORY
2 : absolutely needed : REQUIRED
Function: adjective
: especially suitable or compatible : FITTING
Function: noun
1 a (1) : strength or energy exerted or brought to bear : cause of motion or change : active power <the forces of nature> <the motivating force in her life> (2) usually capitalized -- used with a number to indicate the strength of the wind according to the Beaufort scale <a Force 10 hurricane> b : moral or mental strength c : capacity to persuade or convince <the force of the argument>
2 a : military strength b (1) : a body (as of troops or ships) assigned to a military purpose (2) plural : the whole military strength (as of a nation) c : a body of persons or things available for a particular end <a labor force> <the missile force> d : an individual or group having the power of effective action <join forces to prevent violence> <a force in politics> e often capitalized : POLICE FORCE -- usually used with the
3 : violence, compulsion, or constraint exerted upon or against a person or thing
4 a : an agency or influence that if applied to a free body results chiefly in an acceleration of the body and sometimes in elastic deformation and other effects b : any of the natural influences (as electromagnetism, gravity, the strong force, and the weak force) that exist especially between particles and determine the structure of the universe
5 : the quality of conveying impressions intensely in writing or speech
In my opinion, the Congress did not do its job when it passed this resolution because there are so many different ways the plain language could be misconstrued. And that is exactly what is happening. The word force can represent any of five different definitions and the complexion of SJR23 changes on each different use of the word. Did the Congress intend to allow the President to use all necessary and appropriate [available bodies of persons or things for a particular end <a labor force>]? Or, did they intend that the President was authorized to use all appropriate and necessary [violence exerted upon or against] the terrorists? Or, maybe he was authorized to use all necessary and appropriate [...natural influences (such as electromagnetism, gravity, the strong force, and the weak force)]? I believe that Congress intended the following: "(a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all [absolutely needed] and [fitting] [military strength] against those nations, organizations..."
We are going to have to look elsewhere for the intent of Congress when they submitted this poorly written piece of legislation. We can look at the Congressional Record and we can look at other "Authorization(s) for Use of Military Force" issued by Congress to get an overall sense of what their intentions were. lets start with other AUMF's. We can find these in the notes section of 50USC1541:
(a) Authorization.—The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to...
Armed Forces, as used here, generally means:
 2 a : military strength b (1) : a body (as of troops or ships) assigned to a military purpose (2) plural : the whole military strength (as of a nation) c : a body of persons or things available for a particular end <a labor force> <the missile force>.
The Congress could have just as easily said, "The President is authorized to use force as he determines to be necessary and appropriate..." It would have meant the same thing. To continue:
(a) Authorization.—The President is authorized, subject to subsection (b), to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678...
Again, we see Congress authorizing the President using similar language as before. When Congress wrote these two pieces of legislation, they understood that the War Powers Resolution only allowed them the use of the Armed Forces specifically, not the use of arbitrary force generally to run rough-shod over the countryside.
I propose that Congress wanted the President to pursue, capture (or kill), and prosecute those responsible for the terrorist acts committed on the United States on September 11, 2001. In order to do this, the Congress had to pass a resolution giving the President "specific statutory authorization" to use military force. Put simply, SJR23 gives the President permission to play war with his army men. When we look at 50USC1541, we can see why Congress had to put forward Senate Joint Resolution 23. In order to introduce the United States Armed Forces into hostilities, Congress has to, per the Constitution, empower the President, via a resolution (50USC1541(b) -- Under article I, section 8, of the Constitution, it is specifically provided that the Congress shall have the power to make all laws necessary and proper...). It should also be noted that the law recognizes that any empowerment of "any department or officer" must be "vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States." In other words, there is granted no authority for "extra-constitutional powers", "unconstitutional powers", etc. because all empowerment must be couched in the Constitution.
Finally, we should look to the debates that occurred in Congress that led to the passing of SJR23. The Congressional Record has quite a bit of information that you can read concerning these matters. I will tell you that emotions were running rather high after September 11, 2001. Some of the comments made by Congressmen and Congresswomen were pretty indicative of the general feeling of revenge that existed at that time. I do want to highlight some comments by Senator Biden to show you what Congress intended when they passed this bill. However, for the sake of openness, I will say that their were comments made (not specifically about this bill, but in general) that wished horrible things on those responsible for the terrorist attacks. It is important and necessary to differentiate between these two types of comments.
Mr. Biden: "I believe it is fairly remarkable that, in spite of the reasons for the attack on us and our way of life, we adhered to the rule of law; that even in this calamity, we acted with dispatch but under the law, under the Constitution.

The resolution provides the President clear authority ‘‘to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons that he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.’’ In short, the President is authorized to go after those responsible for the barbaric acts of September 11, 2001 to ensure that those same actors do not engage in additional acts of international terrorism against the United States.

The authority permits the President wide latitude to use force against the broad range of actors who were responsible for the September 11 attacks. If any nation harbored the terrorists while they were in training, that nation may be subject to American military power. If a nation or organization financed the operation, they may be subject to American military power. It does not limit the amount of time that the President may prosecute this action against the parties guilty for the September 11 attacks. We must all understand that the use of force will not be easy or quick. In extending this broad authority to cover those ‘‘planning, authorizing, committing, or aiding the attacks’’ it should go without saying, however, that the resolution is directed only at using force abroad to combat acts of international terrorism.

The authority granted is focused on those responsible for the attacks of September 11. The President’s lawyers originally proposed that the resolved clause also include language authorizing military force to ‘‘deter and preempt any future acts of terrorism against the United States.’’ Of course, the President has the Constitutional authority to deter terrorism through a broad range of means, including diplomatic measures, economic sanctions, seizing of financial assets, or deployment of forces. The President must also ensure that Executive Branch agencies devote the necessary resources and apply the full measure of the federal criminal laws to deter, prevent and punish terrorism. Further, the President has the authority under the Constitution to use force to preempt an imminent attack, including a terrorist attack, against the United States. Rather than purporting to extend these authorities in the resolved clause, the final whereas clause reflects these recognized powers of the President.

I suggest what others have said, and that is, the President of the United States has our prayers, he has our good wishes, and he has our commitment under the Constitution now to support him in what action he takes as defined by the authority he has. That is a big deal. It is a big deal. It is worth noting."

I believe Senator Biden summed it up pretty well when he said the President has wide latitude to use force, but he can only use that force abroad. Mr. Biden understood that the Constitution had protections in place that the Congress and the President could not side-step by passing this resolution. This had never been the case, and it never will be the case. When Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his ilk say that Congress gave them the authority to use warrantless searches on Americans, I say show me where the Fourth Amendment has been suspended or repealed. As long as the Fourth Amendment stands, they are violating our rights and they are violating their oaths to uphold our Constitution.

A Closer Look At Electronic Surveillance

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

In my ongoing investigation of what is fact and what is fiction concerning the recent revelation of the President's authorizing surveillance of American citizens, I want to look at the jurisdiction of the court in these matters. A good friend of mine told me that when it comes to matters of law, one of the first things to settle is who has jurisdiction because without jurisdiction, your argument evaporates. Referring to Title 50 of the United States Code, we will be looking at section 1802(b) of Chapter 36 which has to do with electronic surveillance. (Note: All terms in blue have codified definitions that can be found at 50USC36§1801)

Applications for a court order under this subchapter are authorized if the President has, by written authorization, empowered the
Attorney General to approve applications to the court having jurisdiction under section 1803 of this title, and a judge to whom an application is made may, notwithstanding any other law, grant an order, in conformity with section 1805 of this title, approving electronic surveillance of a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power for the purpose of obtaining foreign intelligence information, except that the court shall not have jurisdiction to grant any order approving electronic surveillance directed solely as described in paragraph (1)(A) of subsection (a) of this section unless such surveillance may involve the acquisition of communications of any United States person.

Put simply, applications for court orders are authorized by a court having jurisdiction, except where electronic surveillance is directed solely at a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power for the purposes of obtaining foreign intelligence information, unless such surveillance may involve the acquisition of communications of any United States person.

The way section 1802(b) is written seems to follow the precept that:

  1. The court assumes jurisdiction over all electronic surveillance authorized by the President.
  2. Because the court has jurisdiction in these matters, a court order is always necessary when approving applications for electronic surveillance.
  3. The court loses its jurisdiction to approve applications for electronic surveillance when the subjects of said surveillance are solely foreign powers or agents of a foreign power.
  4. The court regains its jurisdiction if the electronic surveillance may involve the acquisition of communications of any United States person.
To summarize, when dealing with this subject matter, a court order is always required unless it can be shown that all subjects of the surveillance are outside the jurisdiction of the court. This supports the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution that protects the right of citizens to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures and to have warrants issued only upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation. For the President or the Attorney General to say that they do not have to get a court order to initiate electronic surveillance flies in the face of our Fourth Amendment protections. To further bolster my argument, we only need look at 50USC33§1547(d) concerning the interpretation of the Senate Joint Resolution Authorization for Use of Military Force (this is found under the War Powers Resolution chapter).
Constitutional authorities or existing treaties unaffected; construction against grant of Presidential authority respecting use of United States Armed Forces
Nothing in this chapter—
(1) is intended to alter the constitutional authority of the Congress or of the President, or the provisions of existing treaties.
Its pretty hard to argue that the language stating, "Nothing in this chapter... is intended to alter the constitutional authority of the Congress or of the President" means anything else then what it says: No new authority. The Congress and the President are still bound by their Constitutional restraints.

The Upcoming Iranian Oil Bourse

Sunday, December 18, 2005

From an article By William R. Clark at Information Clearing House:
Petrodollar Warfare: Dollars, Euros and the Upcoming Iranian Oil Bourse
Despite the complete absence of coverage from the five U.S. corporate media conglomerates, these foreign news stories suggest one of the Federal Reserve's nightmares may begin to unfold in the spring of 2006, when it appears that international buyers will have a choice of buying a barrel of oil for $60 dollars on the NYMEX and IPE - or purchase a barrel of oil for €45 - €50 euros via the Iranian Bourse. This assumes the euro maintains its current 20-25% appreciated value relative to the dollar – and assumes that some sort of US "intervention" is not launched against Iran. The upcoming bourse will introduce petrodollar versus petroeuro currency hedging, and fundamentally new dynamics to the biggest market in the world - global oil and gas trades. In essence, the U.S. will no longer be able to effortlessly expand credit via U.S. Treasury bills, and the dollar's demand/liquidity value will fall.
It will be interesting to see if Mr. Clark's predictions come true. Oh, and another thing... Now that you've read the above bit, you can't unlearn it. If it comes true, you will have known about it well in advance. If Iran is attacked before they implement their oil bourse, you'll have to question our motivations. Sorry about that.

Bush, the NSA, and our Police State

Saturday, December 17, 2005

"This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and their civil liberties and that is exactly what I will continue to do as long as I am president of the United States," ~President Bush, defending a post-Sept. 11 secret eavesdropping program in the U.S. by the National Security Agency without obtaining warrants from a court.

Do you see the flaw in his words and with his logic? The portion of Mr. Bush's brain that formulates sentences understands the scope in which Mr. Bush, as President, is suppose to operate. The rest of his brain, unfortunately, is out to lunch. What "power" does Mr. Bush have? What "law" does he operate under? What part of the Constitution does he refer to? And what does he mean by, "...protect them and their civil liberties"? Let us look, keeping to the subject of surveillance.

His Power

50USC36§1811 Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for a period not to exceed fifteen calendar days following a declaration of war by the Congress.

The authority that empowers the president to surveil persons turns on a declaration of war by the Congress. No declaration of war, no authority. To the best of my knowledge, Congress has yet to declare war on anything.

The Law

50USC36§1802(a)(1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that--(B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party.

Put simply, the President cannot order surveillance of a United States person without a court order.

Our Constitution

Amendment IV,
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized.

This Amendment is a broadly-worded restriction on government to not infringe on individuals' rights to privacy, liberty, and property. It provides an outline to our government in acceptable methods of investigating individuals. In it's most basic sense, the government can never surveil citizens without first getting a court order.

His Duty

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish the Constitution for the United States of America.

As a representative of the United States Government, he has sworn an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. The Constitution created our government to protect the rights and liberties of the people. For the President to authorize the illegal spying on American citizens is contradictory to the function and purpose of our government.

The American Expectation

What do we expect from our President and the rest of our government? We expect our government to do its job to the very best of its ability. The American people expect that, while doing its job, the government will not violate the rights of the people. To do so would be counterintuitive to the purpose of government. Our Declaration of Independence best articulates this concept: "[T]o secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

An Interesting Visitor Log Entry

Here's an interesting visitor log entry. It would appear that my Wall of Shame post may have caught the eye of someone over at the U.S. House of Representatives. From SiteMeter's log:
Domain Name ? (United States Government)
IP Address   143.231.249.# (Information Systems, U.S. House of Representatives)
ISP   Information Systems, U.S. House of Representatives
Continent  :  North America
Country  :  United States  (Facts)
State  :  District of Columbia
City  :  Washington
Lat/Long  :  38.8933, -77.0146 (Map)
Language   English (United States)
Operating System   Microsoft WinXP
Browser   Internet Explorer 6.0
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)
Javascript   version 1.3
Resolution  :  1024 x 768
Color Depth  :  32 bits
Time of Visit   Dec 16 2005 6:57:30 am
Last Page View   Dec 16 2005 6:57:58 am
Visit Length   28 seconds
Page Views   2
Referring URL http://www.technorat...earch/cathy+mcmorris
Visit Entry Page   http://donsobservs.b...2/wall-of-shame.html
Visit Exit Page   http://donsobservs.b...2/wall-of-shame.html
Time Zone   UTC-5:00
EST - Eastern Standard
EDT - Eastern Daylight Saving Time
Visitor's Time   Dec 16 2005 9:57:30 am
See, they do see the stuff we bloggers post. Now, if we could only get them to read the Constitution... and understand it!

Wall of Shame

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The following Representatives voted FOR renewing provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. To reward them for their votes, they get a place on my new Wall of Shame.
Doc Hastings
The 4th District of Washington
Cathy McMorris
The 5th District of Washington
Dave Reichert
The 8th District of Washington
I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea. These folks earned their spots here by casting their votes in favor of the Patriot Act. This Act has allowed the trampling of our rights and liberties by government. It is well documented that the PATRIOT Act is at odds with our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These morons just voted for more oppressive government.
Let me be clear: I do not want to give a "free-pass" to terrorists. But, I will not trade my rights or my liberties so that I can "feel" more secure from being attacked by terrorists or to make some government employee's job easier. In my book, the value of my liberty far exceeds any security that may be promised by government. My liberty is non-negotiable: keep your hands off!

Do You Know What Today Is?

From The National Archives:
During the debates on the adoption of the Constitution, its opponents repeatedly charged that the Constitution as drafted would open the way to tyranny by the central government. Fresh in their minds was the memory of the British violation of civil rights before and during the Revolution. They demanded a "bill of rights" that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens. Several state conventions in their formal ratification of the Constitution asked for such amendments; others ratified the Constitution with the understanding that the amendments would be offered.

On September 25, 1789, the First Congress of the United States therefore proposed to the state legislatures 12 amendments to the Constitution that met arguments most frequently advanced against it. The first two proposed amendments, which concerned the number of constituents for each Representative and the compensation of Congressmen, were not ratified. Articles 3 to 12, however, ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures, constitute the first 10 amendments of the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights.

Learn More About the Bill of Rights
The article "A More Perfect Union" provides an in-depth look at the Constitutional Convention, the ratification process, and the adoption of the Bill of Rights.

A Voice of Dissent: George Mason
As the delegates gathered at the Pennsylvania State House in May 1787 to "revise" the Articles of Confederation, Virginia delegate George Mason wrote, "The Eyes of the United States are turned upon this Assembly and their Expectations raised to a very anxious Degree." Mason had earlier written the Virginia Declaration of Rights that strongly influenced Thomas Jefferson in writing the first part of the Declaration of Independence. He left the convention bitterly disappointed, however, and became one of the Constitution's most vocal opponents. "It has no declaration of rights," he was to state. Ultimately, George Mason's views prevailed. When James Madison drafted the amendments to the Constitution that were to become the Bill of Rights, he drew heavily upon the ideas put forth in the Virginia Declaration of Rights.

San Francisco's Gun-Grab

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The following is from Proposition H which is an "Initiative ordinance prohibiting the sale, manufacture and distribution of firearms in the City and County of San Francisco, and limiting the possession of handguns in the City and County of San Francisco."
Section 6. State Law,
[A]ny person currently denied the privilege of possessing a handgun under state law shall not be covered by this ordinance, but shall be covered by the California state law which denies that privilege.
Did you know that California lawmakers consider it a "privilege" to possess handguns in their state? I didn't, either. But, to consider it a privilege gives them the power to revoke, at will, that privilege. Now, if California lawmakers recognized handgun possession as a fundamental right of every person to be able to protect their person and property, they would not even attempt this latest round of gun-grabbing. The citizens of California need to assert their right to possess handguns, by forceful means if necessary.
Backers of the Bill of Rights understood that all governments can turn despotic over time. To help prevent that from happening, they included in our Bill of Rights the Second Amendment:
Amendment II,
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
This is a universal truth. It applies to all instances of life. No matter how many people decide to vote away your right to possess arms, they have no power to enforce it. The men who wrote the Bill of Rights knew that government would attempt to confiscate arms from the citizenry, and they knew that they would utilize instruments of the government to facilitate the confiscation. To prove this point, you can see that the authors of this proposition allow handgun possession only for a:
Section 3.,
...City, state or federal employee carrying out the functions of his or her government employment, including but not limited to peace officers as defined by California Penal Code Section 830 et.seq. and animal control officers may possess a handgun. Active members of the United States armed forces or the National Guard and security guards, regularly employed and compensated by a person engaged in any lawful business, while actually employed and engaged in protecting and preserving property or life within the scope of his or her employment, may also possess handguns.
To protect ourselves from tyrannical governments and their minions, we have the right to keep and bear arms. This is our right, not a privilege granted to us by some government. Lawmakers of the State of California who do not understand this difference have no place in government. Lawmakers anywhere in the United States who do not understand the distinction between a right and a privilege need to be thrown out, period!
P.S. This proposition passed and will become law January 1, 2006. Look for this to come to your city in the not-to-distant future. The "gun-grab" is on!

Bush's True "Swearing In"

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

There's been a story swirling about the internet that reports on Bush's disdain for the United States Constitution. I've read numerous articles about it, and must report that, while I wasn't present at the time of the alleged utterance, given the past actions and overall character of our current president, I'd have to conclude that he probably did make these comments.

Being slightly twisted, I envisioned the following...

Bush swears in... literally!
Chuck Baldwin wrote an excellent piece about this topic. I recommend reading it. Also, click here for an article by Karen Kwiatkowski.

In closing, I would like propose a question (assuming the above statement is factual): If our elected leader feels this much contempt for the document that empowers him to do his job, then wouldn't he, by his own admission, be a dictator? By this, I mean: If he feels the constitution is a worthless piece of paper, then where does the authority and power come from that allows him to govern you and I? Remember, also, that it was Mr. Bush who said, "Gee, if this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier...just as long as I am the dictator."

Your actions, Mr. President, speak the loudest.

Tax Terrorism Season - Redux

Sunday, December 11, 2005

NOTE: This is a re-post of a previous submission. I received a number of complaints that the video links wouldn't work, so I embedded them in webpages. This should fix the problem. I also noticed that webcrawlers, such as Yahoo!, weren't listing the video because (I believe) it wasn't in a webpage that had meta tags. This action should fix this problem, too.
As you well know, we are rapidly approaching "Tax Terrorism Season." In anticipation of this event, I've created a video spoofing the IRS. I've used a popular Jerky commercial as the wrapper for the message. I hope you like it.
Here are links to two versions of the video:
Please feel free to copy and distribute these videos.

The Value of Gold

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Here's a simple question: How can our economy be considered "in good shape" while at the same time the value of gold rises? On one hand: you have government officials and economic analysts declaring how great our economy is. On the other: gold, oil, and other essential commodities continue to rise in value.
This situation doesn't pass the "smell" test. If the value of gold goes up, the value of the dollar goes down. It's as simple as that. I'm no economist, but simple logic says that if the money you use doesn't purchase as much of a certain valuable commodity as it once did, then your economy is down.
In closing, The Washington Times carried an interesting editorial on Nov. 29th, How's the dollar holding up? It takes a broad look at what the dollar has been doing since 1995. What I found interesting was the last paragraph:
Absent a major policy reversal in Washington (such as finally exerting control over a fiscal situation that has become seriously unhinged over the short, medium and long terms) and absent a simultaneous return of household thrift (which has completely disappeared as the personal saving rate has turned negative), normally sober-minded economists are warning about severe financial consequences for both the United States and the global economy if the structurally unbalanced U.S. economy continues to rely on foreigners to lend it nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars per year. (Emphasis added)
We have to understand that this swimming pool of credit that we've tapped into will eventually run dry. Wealth is finite. We will be cut off at some point. That day is coming closer than many of us realize.

The 9th & 10th Amendments

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Do you see it? The distinction that was made... do you see it? Its right there--plain as day. I didn't see it, either, until someone pointed it out to me.
I'll tell you what the distinction is. The Ninth Amendment concerns flesh-and-blood people, while the Tenth Amendment deals with fictions we call States. What's the difference? People, you and me, have rights and powers. States, on the other hand, only have powers. The Ninth Amendment says, in essence, people retain all rights, while States or people, quoting from the Tenth Amendment, retain all powers. Only people possess both rights and powers. There is a difference.
Click here to listen to a more indepth discussion on this subject by Jerry Hughes from his weekly radio program, Conceived in Liberty.

Relationship Between State and Federal Governments

Have you ever wondered about the relationship between State and Federal governments? Where the division of powers lay? Where you fit in the grand scheme of things? When our Constitution was written, I wasn't there. So, I'll have to defer to someone who was present: 
"With respect to our State and federal governments, I do not think their relations are correctly understood by foreigners. They generally suppose the former subordinate to the latter. But this is not the case. They are co-ordinate departments of one simple and integral whole. To the State governments are reserved all legislative and administration, in affairs which concern their own citizens only, and to the federal government is given whatever concerns foreigners, or the citizens of the other States; these functions alone being made federal. The one is domestic, the other the foreign branch of the same government; neither having control over the other, but within its own department."
~Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 1824. ME 16:47
"The several States composing the United States of America are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General Government; but... by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a General Government for special purposes,-- delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government."
~Thomas Jefferson: Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798. ME 17:379
"It is a fatal heresy to suppose that either our State governments are superior to the Federal or the Federal to the States. The people, to whom all authority belongs, have divided the powers of government into two distinct departments, the leading characters of which are foreign and domestic; and they have appointed for each a distinct set of functionaries. These they have made coordinate, checking and balancing each other like the three cardinal departments in the individual States; each equally supreme as to the powers delegated to itself, and neither authorized ultimately to decide what belongs to itself or to its coparcener in government. As independent, in fact, as different nations."
~Thomas Jefferson to Spencer Roane, 1821. ME 15:328
"Comparing the two governments together, it is observable that in all those cases where the independent or reserved rights of the States are in question, the two executives, if they are to act together, must be exactly co-ordinate; they are, in these cases, each the supreme head of an independent government. In other cases, to wit, those transferred by the Constitution to the General Government, the general executive is certainly preordinate; e. g. in a question respecting the militia, and others easily to be recollected."
~Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1801. ME 10:267
"I do not think it for the interest of the General Government itself, and still less of the Union at large, that the State governments should be so little respected as they have been. However, I dare say that in time all these as well as their central government, like the planets revolving round their common sun, acting and acted upon according to their respective weights and distances, will produce that beautiful equilibrium on which our Constitution is founded, and which I believe it will exhibit to the world in a degree of perfection, unexampled but in the planetary system itself. The enlightened statesman, therefore, will endeavor to preserve the weight and influence of every part, as too much given any member of it would destroy the general equilibrium."
~Thomas Jefferson to Peregrine Fitzhugh, 1798. ME 10:3
If I were to summarize Thomas Jefferson's remarks, I would have to say that he intends for us to understand that the federal government has power and authority over all matters foreign to, and external of, the individual states, while each state government's power and authority lies with all affairs within that state. Today, however, the delineation of powers gets blurred because federal grants are offered to the states, but with strings attached giving the federal government authority within states that otherwise would not exist. It is really kind of odd that the states would accept conditional grants from the federal government when you realize that the federal government has no money of its own. Generally speaking, the federal government generates most, if not all its revenue from the states or from individuals and corporations through taxation.

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