"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Don't Be Fooled By Occupation In Democracy's Clothing

Forgive me if I cannot whip up too much excitement over the coming Iraqi elections. Apart from my innate scepticism as to US intentions after its pretexts for going to war were blown apart, the words of an Iraqi diplomat who insisted he was a close friend of Eyad Allawi add fuel to the embers.

"The outcome of the elections is more or less a done deal," he told me. "Allawi is set to continue."

I took this statement with a fistful of salt until I read this in last Sunday's Times: "fears of a takeover by Shiite clerics have prompted speculation that Washington might have been trying to strike a deal with Al Sistani to keep Allawi as prime minister after the election".

Tipped to oust Allawi is head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq Abdul-Aziz Al Hakim and he is clamouring for American troops to go home pronto.

Since Bush has promised the occupying forces will abide by the wishes of a sovereign Iraqi government, his call could prove embarrassing.

Let's face it, US troops aren't about to go anywhere especially since neighbouring Iran features large on the 2005 pre-emption menu.

We would have to be either naïve or on Prozac to believe the Bush administration is poised to walk off into the sunset sans oil and sans face, leaving an Iraqi government representing the Shiite majority free to cosy up to the Iranian ayatollahs.

Even if the United States isn't engaged in manipulative hanky panky, the election is defective from the start.

UN monitors are understandably scarce on the ground and three or four Sunni provinces (containing almost half the country's entire population) will be virtually excluded due to rising levels of violence.

Allawi's attempt

Indeed, heralding the new Iraqi democracy are closed borders and airport, travel restrictions and curfews, while candidates and the location of polling stations will remain secret until the last minute.

Allawi's bid already looks suspect after he doled out $100 bills to reporters hoping for favourable coverage.

The Riverbend girl blogger refuses to be seduced. She says she found an "Elect Allawi" pamphlet promising "security and prosperity for occupied Iraq", which fitted nicely at the bottom of a parakeet's cage.

She complains: "People in many areas are being told that if they don't vote … the food and supply rations we are supposed to get monthly will be cut off," and asks, "what sort of democracy is it when you force people to go vote for someone or another they don't want?"

The idea that Allawi has a mega following is frankly laughable. This is a former Baathist who fell out with Saddam Hussain and forged links with the CIA.

Few had even heard of him before he replaced Ahmad Chalabi in the Pentagon's affections. So low has Chalabi sunk that the interim Iraqi Defence Minister is threatening to hand him over to Jordan where he was convicted in absentia for embezzlement.

Allawi cheered on the flattening of Fallujah and supports the American military presence, so it is hardly likely he would attract a significant popular vote.

Iraqis know that Allawi perpetuates the lie their country is now a sovereign state.

Clearly aware who his masters are, Allawi's speech before the US Congress was ridiculed as being designed to aid Bush's re-election and probably dreamt up by Bush's own speechwriters.

"We are succeeding in Iraq," he said, before thanking his audience for "your brave vote in 2002 to authorise American men and women to go to war to liberate my country … ".

No condemnation concerning the use of cluster bombs, which are regularly responsible for small children losing their limbs. No condemnation of the use of depleted uranium tank shells responsible for a prevalence in birth defects and cancers.

No condemnation of the deaths of up to 100,000 Iraqi civilians and not a word about the torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Allawi is no patriot and if he remains prime minister after the vote, then, as far as I am concerned it was a sham, a pre-arranged set-up just as the Iraqi diplomat confided it would be.

The release of an audio tape by the elusive Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, which announces: "We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology" just days before the election, is strangely reminiscent of that released by the even more elusive Osama Bin Laden days before the US vote, said to have swayed voters in Bush's direction.

Fit the profile

"Evil principle of democracy?" Bush always said that they, the terrorists, hate democracy. It looks like Zarqawi is only too happy to fit the profile.

If you believe that anyone believes democracy is evil, I've got a nice Egyptian pyramid I'd like to sell you with a free camel if you purchase two.

Donald Rumsfeld was quick to acknowledge that this election will be far from perfect but believes a flawed election is better than no election.

The trouble is democracy isn't a loaf of bread. There is no such thing as half democracy. Elections are either comprehensive, inclusive, free and fair or they are not.

Iraqis deserve a prosperous, peaceful and democratic Iraq but I doubt this is possible as long as the occupation forces stay. They have their agenda; the Iraqi people have theirs and both are mutually exclusive.

A paper entitled "Rebuilding America's Defences" drawn up by the Project for a New American Century in 2000 and signed up to by several top members of the Bush administration suggests US troops need to establish a permanent foothold in the Gulf, while keeping a low profile.

Once Iraq is officially stamped a democracy and American soldiers withdraw to a series of permanent bases or behind the walls of the largest and most fortified US embassy in the world, the Strauss-cons will have achieved their objective occupation in democracy's clothing.

Although whether they will be allowed to get away with this giant con is an entirely different matter.

Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She can be contacted at lheard@gulfnews.com

The Bill of Rights: Searches and Seizures

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is rooted in the horrific government abuses arising from “general warrants” in English history and “writs of assistance” in British colonial history in America. With the aim of protecting the American people from similar abuses at the hands of U.S. federal officials, the Fourth Amendment was worded as follows:

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 persons or things to be seized.

The case that ultimately set the basis for the Fourth Amendment is Entick v. Carrington, decided in 1775, which the U.S. Supreme Court later described in the landmark case of Boyd v. U.S. (1886) as

one of the landmarks of English history. It was welcomed and applauded by the lovers of liberty in the Colonies as well as in the mother country. It is regarded as one of the permanent monuments of the British constitution, and is quoted as such by the English authorities on that subject down to the present time.
As every American statesman, during our revolutionary and formative period as a nation, was undoubtedly familiar with this monument of English freedom, and considered it as the true and ultimate expression of constitutional law, it may be confidently asserted that its propositions were in the minds of those who framed the fourth amendment to the constitution, and were considered as sufficiently explanatory of what was meant by unreasonable searches and seizures.

General warrants entitled law-enforcement officials to go into a person’s home for the purpose of making a random search in the hope of finding incriminating evidence. The Entick case involved government agents who, using a general warrant, entered the home of an English citizen and broke into his desks and boxes, searching and examining his papers. Striking down the use of general warrants and ruling in favor of the citizen in the Entick case, the English judge, Lord Camden, wrote,

Papers are the owner’s goods and chattels; they are his dearest property; and are so far from enduring a seizure that they will hardly bear an inspection. . .. Where is the written law that gives any magistrate such a power? I can safely answer, there is none; and therefore it is too much for us without such authority to pronounce a practice legal which would be subversive of all the comforts of society.

The principles set forth by Lord Camden in Entick were later expanded upon in the Boyd case, where the U.S. Supreme Court stated,

The principles laid down [by Lord Camden] affect the very essence of constitutional liberty and security. They reach further than the concrete form of the case then before the court, with its adventitious circumstances; they apply to all invasions on the part of the government and its employees of the sanctity of a man’s home and the privacies of life. It is not the breaking of his doors, and the rummaging of his drawers, that constitutes the essence of the offense; but it is the invasion of his indefeasible right of personal security, personal liberty, and private property, where that right has never been forfeited by his conviction of some public offense; it is the invasion of this sacred right which underlies and constitutes the essence of Lord Camden’s judgment. Breaking into a house and opening boxes and drawers are circumstances of aggravation; but any forcible and compulsory extortion of a man’s own testimony, or of his private papers to be used as evidence to convict him of a crime, or to forfeit his goods, is within the condemnation of that judgment. In this regard the fourth and fifth amendments run almost into each other. Can we doubt that when the fourth and fifth amendments to the constitution of the United States were penned and adopted, the language of Lord Camden was relied on as expressing the true doctrine on the subject of searches and seizures, and as furnishing the true criteria of the reasonable and unreasonable character of such seizures?... The struggles against arbitrary power in which they had been engaged for more than 20 years, would have been too deeply engraved in their memories to allow them to approve of such insidious disguises of the old grievance which they had so deeply abhorred.

The writs of assistance

In the English colonies, the “writs of assistance” on which government officials relied were general warrants that allowed agents to search for smuggled items — namely molasses, tea, and rum — within any suspected premises. Keep in mind that unlike the situation in America today, smuggling to avoid taxes was considered by most people an honorable course of action. As they do today, government officials hated and reviled smuggling for the obvious reason — it deprived the government of much-desired tax revenue. Thus, writs of assistance were the primary means by which government officials would uncover smuggled goods and then punish the smugglers.

One of the most famous and eloquent denunciations of writs of assistance was issued by colonist James Otis, who wrote in 1761,

It appears to me the worst instrument of arbitrary power, the most destructive of English liberty and the fundamental principles of law, that ever was found in an English law-book. . ..

It is a power that places the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer. . .. Every one with this writ may be a tyrant; if this commission be legal, a tyrant in a legal manner, also, may control, imprison, or murder any one within the realm. In the next place, it is perpetual; there is no return. A man is accountable to no person for his doings. Every man may reign secure in his petty tyranny, and spread terror and desolation around him, until the trump of the Archangel shall excite different emotions in his soul. In the third place, a person with this writ, in the daytime, may enter all houses, shops, etc., at will, and command all to assist him. Fourthly, by this writ not only deputies, etc., but even their menial servants, are allowed to lord it over us. What is this but to have the curse of Canaan with a witness on us: to be the servants of servants, the most despicable of God’s creation? Now one of the most essential branches of English liberty is the freedom of one’s house. A man’s house is his castle; and whilst he is quiet, he is as well guarded as a prince in his castle. This writ, if it should be declared legal, would totally annihilate this privilege. Custom-house officers may enter our houses when they please; we are commanded to permit their entry. Their menial servants may enter, may break locks, bars, and everything in their way; and whether they break through malice or revenge, no man, no court can inquire. Bare suspicion without oath is sufficient. This wanton exercise of this power is not a chimerical suggestion of a heated brain. . .. What a scene does this open! Every man prompted by revenge, ill-humor, or wantonness to inspect the inside of his neighbor’s house, may get a Writ of Assistance. Others will ask it from self-defence; one arbitrary exertion will provoke another, until society be involved in tumult and in blood.
It was that type of fury against writs of assistance that helped fuel the Revolution, the conflict in which British citizens living in the New World took up arms against their own government. As Alan Barth, who served on the editorial board of the Washington Post for 30 years, put it in his book The Rights of Free Men,

Arbitrary arrest and arbitrary searches conducted under the infamous writs of assistance and general warrants were among the bitterest grievances against George III recited in the American Declaration of Independence. When they established their independence Americans were determined that no government of their own creation should ever engage in these forms of despotism.

Accordingly, they imposed heavy restraint upon police activity in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

One of the greatest constitutional commentators in American history, Thomas M. Cooley (1824–1898), expressed one of today’s best-known principles behind the Fourth Amendment in his famous legal treatise Constitutional Limitations:

The maxim that “every man’s house is his castle” is made a part of our constitutional law in the clauses prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures, and has always been looked upon as of high value to the citizen.

Importance of the Fourth Amendment

Today, there are Americans who argue that the Constitution is an outmoded and antiquated document that is ill-suited for modern times. They argue that modern-day federal officials would never engage in the types of abuses engaged in by British officials and, therefore, that they should be trusted with omnipotent power.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Thank goodness for the wisdom and foresight of our ancestors in protecting us from modern-day federal officials, especially through the express restrictions on search and seizure provided in the Fourth Amendment.

How would U.S. officials operate without a Fourth Amendment and an independent judiciary to enforce it? Worse than British officials did with their general writs and writs of assistance! How do we know this? Because we’ve seen how they have operated with omnipotent power in occupied Iraq.

In occupied Iraq, armed U.S. soldiers routinely barge into people’s homes and businesses and conduct intrusive searches of the premises and of the persons who are unfortunate to be there at the time. If they find any contraband, including weapons, they seize it and take it with them. Not having to answer to any court, they operate with omnipotent power, and their searches and seizures in Iraq are arbitrary and indiscriminate.

One might have expected that U.S. officials, even when operating overseas, would believe that the principles against warrantless and unreasonable searches were so important that they shouldn’t be violated even without express constitutional restraints. Not so! With omnipotent power, U.S. officials have behaved much more abominably in occupied Iraq, especially in the area of search and seizure, than British officials behaved in colonial America, which is a primary reason that many Iraqis are reacting to such mistreatment in much the same way that the British colonists reacted to similar mistreatment.

And make no mistake about it: If it hadn’t been for the wisdom of our ancestors in carefully crafting and then adopting the Fourth Amendment, U.S. officials would be doing to us exactly what they’re doing to the people of Iraq — barging into people’s homes and businesses at will, searching for any suspicious evidence to indicate terrorist activity, and prosecuting those against whom supposedly incriminating evidence was found.

After all, who honestly thinks that U.S. officials would stop with doing what they’re doing to American accused terrorist Jose Padilla — trying to detain him for the rest of his life without benefit of trial by jury, right to counsel, due process of law, and habeas corpus? And who can doubt that there would be the standard government apologists who would be exclaiming, “If you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t care that the government is searching your home or business because it’s keeping us safe”?

Compare the situation here in the United States with that in Iraq. Despite the many exceptions in the area of search and seizure that have unfortunately crept into our legal system, primarily as part of the government’s 35-year “war on drugs” and, more recently, as part of the USA PATRIOT Act, the general rule remains intact — that in order to search a person’s home or business, government agents of the executive branch must first secure a warrant from an independent magistrate in the judicial branch. That is, the magistrate, not the executive-branch agents, decides whether someone’s home or business is going to be searched. The judge bases his decision on affidavits (sworn testimony) provided by the executive branch, which must document the reasons for the search and specify what exactly those agents are looking for. While some searches have been authorized to be made without warrants, they must nonetheless still meet a “reasonableness” standard.

In every generation, there are those who gravitate toward the notion of ever-increasing government power, even at the expense of liberty. On the other hand, throughout history there have been those for whom liberty is their highest value, which has motivated them to impose and maintain constraints on government power. The Fourth Amendment, which safeguards our homes and businesses from tyrannical power, stands as a living testament to the fact that the lovers of liberty can prevail over the supporters of tyranny.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Abortion Is Un-American

Abortion is un-American. It baldly violates the first principles of the country, cracking the foundation on which all rights for Americans rest -- the right to life. Unless the right to life is inviolable, none of the rights that presuppose it are inviolable either. The Founding Fathers could not have imagined that the most perilous place in America would end up being a mother's womb.

The Washington Post on Sunday noted that President Bush has been reading Natan Sharansky's book, The Case for Democracy. Sharansky establishes in the book a "townsquare" test for democracy: it exists if citizens can protest the government in a townsquare without interference. A fine test, but I would propose a more fundamental one: democracy exists if you can be born into it without an attempt on your life.

Monday's March for Life served as a reminder that for all our renewed rhetoric of freedom America, 32 years after Roe v. Wade, continues to deny freedom to unborn babies. The fire of freedom of which President Bush spoke last week still hasn't illuminated the shadows and penumbras under which more humans are aborted each day in America than were killed on 9/11.

President Bush, in his remarks to the March for Life attendees (piped in via phone from Camp David), used a word rarely heard these days: civilization. The proof of civilization, he said, is whether the strong protect the weak. By that standard, many democracies don't qualify as civilizations, including our own if it betrays the principles of America's founding.

As democratically elected savages like Adolf Hitler illustrate, democracy is not an automatic guarantor of civilization. Separated from moral truth contained in a rule of law, democracies can be as tyrannical as the most rapacious undemocratic governments.

America should only be on the side of "democracy" if it produces civilization; otherwise the tyranny America seeks to end will spread through the very rhetoric of democracy it uses, should the bin Ladens and Hitlers be democratically elected to power. The Founding Fathers, it is worth remembering, didn't call King George III a tyrant because he was a monarch; they called him a tyrant because he violated basic human rights. They knew democracy could devour itself through its own tyrannies unless it was subject to a truth higher than democracy itself.

A nation that kills its own children is a democracy without civilization and a people without a future -- literally. Not surprisingly, pro-life events such as the March for Life are popular with children, the survivors in the random lottery of life Roe v. Wade conducts year by year.

Unlike the children dragooned into service at last year's pro-abortion "March for Women's Lives" on the national mall -- those children looked about as happy as tots at a casting call for The Omen -- the youth attendees at the March for Life braved the freezing weather willingly to protest an obvious injustice against their generation. Naturally, the mainstream press took little to no interest in this largely youth event.

Most youth causes -- particularly if they are infantile and dangerous to the common weal -- command the media's most solicitous attention. But if thousands of youth descend on Washington, D.C. in biting weather to protest abortion, that's a non-event. The Washington Post barely mentioned the march, though it did find a paragraph in its brief Metro story on Sunday to let a Planned Parenthood official smear pro-lifers as "people who love fetuses but hate babies and children."

Would the Washington Post have published a pro-lifer saying that Planned Parenthood hates fetuses, babies, and children? They do. As Margaret Sanger's son Alexander has put it, the unborn child is a "liability, a threat, and a danger to the mother." Child abuse follows from abortion in principle, a fear children whose siblings were aborted have confessed to psychologists. If they could have done that to my brother or sister, why did I survive? they wonder. And why couldn't they do violence to me now?

This year's March for Life featured among other politicians Senator Sam Brownback ("Brownback in 'O8" signs dotted the crowd), Hoosier Rep. Mike Pence, and a slew of Kansas congressmen. The insipid Main Street Republicanism of Nancy Kassebaum and Bob Dole is now a dim memory -- no wonder elite journalists are shrieking, "What's the matter with Kansas?" There were plenty of clergy too, plus a new group of activists the mainstream media certainly won't cover -- women who regret their abortions. Abortion is violence against women, they testified, both for mother and child.

But violence against women and child abuse, normally topics of lively interest to the press, are of zero interest to a pro-abortion press corps that regards abortion as a glorious "freedom" -- perhaps the only one they demand Bush export to the ends of the earth. What they don't realize is that the pro-life movement will succeed without their attention. If the country is to survive and prosper, a practice as abhorrent to its founding principles as abortion can't.

George Neumayr is executive editor of The American Spectator.

Specter’s Trial Lawyer Appointee

Critics of Senate Judiciary Chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter woke Tuesday morning to discover that the senior Senator from Pennsylvania has been a busy a one-man employment agency for liberal lawyers and Democrats.

Tuesday morning brought word that Carolyn Short, a trial lawyer from Philadelphia, was leaving her practice to become a general counsel for the Specter and his Judiciary Committee.

Short, who has been on the job for a couple of days, has told friends that she views her job with Specter as "temporary," and will commute from her family's home outside of Philadelphia. Her husband is former U.S. Constitutional Center executive director and Democratic congressional candidate Joseph Torsella.

Short was an active advocate for her husband's failed campaign last year. For a local paper, she laid out his, and by association her, position: "The women…who stand behind Joe stand behind him because he is the clear-cut candidate to go to Washington and get things done toward the issues that matter most to women of southeastern Pennsylvania -- creating better job opportunities, protecting the constitutional right to choose and working to make sure women have the health coverage they need."

Staff on the Judiciary committee have been told that Short will have broad responsibilities in her role, though it was made clear that she is not the lead counsel to Specter or the committee.

"Presumably she will be working on everything and anything the chairman wants her to work on: judges, tort reform, reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act, you name it," says a Judiciary Committee staffer. "We are shocked that Specter is making this kind of hire. On the heels of the NAACP hire, and the heat we've been taking, we have to wonder how long Republican leaders will let this go on."

That is a reference to last week's news that Specter had hired, against the wishes of his staff, a former deputy counsel to the NAACP to work on the Republican staff of the Judiciary Committee.

On Tuesday, as word of Short's hiring spread among conservatives, the Judiciary staff was attempting to spin the news. Spokesmen and advisers to Specter were attempting to set up meetings with conservative journalists and activists to keep the burgeoning controversy within the conservative universe.

"They don't want this thing to get into the New York Times or the Washington Post," says the staffer of another U.S. Senator. "They seem to think that they can handle the heat from conservatives, but if the story really explodes in bigger venues, Specter is going to have problems."

The explosion may already be beginning. Word among conservatives was the Specter's actions were going to be the top agenda item at the weekly Wednesday morning meeting organized in Washington by Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform.

As well, conservative Senate members of the Republican Steering Committee met at the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday, and Specter's hiring was one of the topics for discussion. "Nothing was decided," says the staffer of a conservative Southern Senator present at the meeting. "They are taking a wait and see attitude. But they are disturbed by what they have seen and read on this issue."

A clearer picture of just how much damage Specter has inflicted on himself may become clearer over the weekend when Republicans travel to the Greenbrier resort for their leadership retreat. There, Specter is expected to meet with a number of his colleagues, and to explain why he has been focusing on liberal Democrats in his hiring.

"The most troubling thing I read on this issue was that Specter had begun speaking to these people shortly after he secured the chairmanship," says a Senate leadership staffer. "Specter survives having his head lopped, has his senior staff promise that he will hire conservatives, then turns around and talks to his liberal Democratic chums. There is a growing impression up here that he was less than honest with his colleagues in order to win the chairmanship."

While Specter and his staff attempt to kill this furor, conservatives are awaiting some indication from the Senate Republican leadership that they will try to clean up the Specter mess. That may come as soon as this weekend. Given the confirmation battles that have developed for both Secretary of State and Attorney General, there has been little opportunity to the leadership to consider the political goings-on with Specter.

The Prowler
Published 1/26/2005 12:09:51 AM