Friday, March 31, 2006

We did so well so long....

In case you missed the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on C-Span2 this morning (I had to turn the TV up as loud as I could while I wandered the house doing chores and working on my spiritual auto-bio, which is going nicely, thank you!), this is the Glenn Greenwald post Sen. Feingold referenced in part of his questioning.

I mention it only because it is a concise effort (Glenn is sometimes a bit wordy for moi) and makes a very salient point:

It is rather striking how the White House's defense of its activities -- and its explanation for why there need not be any Congressional investigation into its actions ("you shouldn't worry") we are only eavesdropping on the "very bad people") -- is virtually identical, both in substance and in words, to the assurances given to us on the same topic by the Nixon Administration. John Dean is an extremely appropriate witness at these hearings in so many ways.
If Watergate was truly the nadir of the American republic in the 20th century, how is the Bush Administration any different? The strongest defense of the wiretapping I heard in the hearings was from Sen. Hatch, who averred that John Dean did not have prima facie evidence of a crime, as Dean asserted. It was also as close to "Did not!" "Did too!" "Well, you're a big filthy liar! Liar, liar, pants on fire! And 'did not' times a billion!," as the hearings got. Only the rules of decorum kept Hatch from taking his defense to that logical conclusion.

The Administration has, quite simply, become indefensible. Sen. Graham carefully avoided Bruce Fein's argument that if the President (as the President claims, no one disputed this point) has the power to investigate anything under the banner of "foreign intelligence," then the President can read mail and invade houses, claiming to be seeking information related to foreign intelligence. And none of this gets the oversight of a judge, or more than a handful of Congresspersons (Specter bristled at the idea that informing him of this program was not Constitutionally adequate; so much for "government of laws, not men.") Graham sidestepped that argument because he knew Fein was right: Bush has laid claim to nothing less than the power to shred the Constitution, in order to protect the nation.

But is there a nation, without a Constitution?

Noam Chomsky was interviewed for the full hour of Democracy Now! this morning, over his new book Failed State. He mentioned something interesting:

...Clinton devised the concept of rogue states. ‘It’s 1994, we have to defend ourselves from rogue states.’ Then, later on came the failed states, which either threaten our security, like Iraq, or require our intervention in order to save them, like Haiti, often devastating them in the process. In each case, the terms have been pretty hard to sustain, because it's been difficult to overlook the fact that under any, even the most conservative characterization of these notions -- let's say U.S. law -- the United States fits fairly well into the category, as has often been recognized. By now, for example, the category -- even in the Clinton years, leading scholars, Samuel Huntington and others, observed that -- in the major journals, Foreign Affairs -- that in most of the world, much of the world, the United States is regarded as the leading rogue state and the greatest threat to their existence.

By now, a couple of years later, Bush years, same journals’ leading specialists don't even report international opinion. They just describe it as a fact that the United States has become a leading rogue state.

Which puts Derrida's comments in a wholly new light, at least to me. Sadly, this is not entirely news to the American public, but neither will we see Chomsky on national television to discuss or even debate these ideas.

Worse still, Chomsky argues we are on the way to being a "failed state," one "that cannot protect its citizens from violence and has a government that regards itself as beyond the reach of domestic or international law." Chomsky points out, for example, that weapons sites were under UN guard, and weapons manufacturing equipment were being disassembled and destroyed by the UN. Remember Al Qaa Qaa? It wasn't protected when we went in, and now, Chomsky says, all that material has disappeared. Where did it go? Presumably the Bush Administration no more cares than it cares where Osama Bin Laden is.

Paul Simon wrote "American Tune" after Watergate. Sadly, it's even more relevant now. Given what Greenwald says, and what happened in the Senate Judiciary Commitee this morning, is there any doubt Chomsky's thesis is essentially correct?

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