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Commentary Last Updated: Mar 28th, 2008 - 00:50:44

Patriots, come forth and save America
By JC Garrett
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Mar 28, 2008, 00:13

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It has become obvious that the Bush administration will never come clean about any of the injustices it has committed. It has fought tooth and nail to avoid the release of information that rightfully belongs to the American public, ignoring legitimate Freedom of Information requests, and even going so far as to classify information that had already been openly available for years.

It is equally apparent that the Justice Department has little will and no intention of conducting thorough, unbiased investigations into any of the myriad violations of law by the executive branch. That may change in 2009, when Mr. Bush abandons the rotted, sinking ship of his ruinous presidency to slink back in shame to his Crawford ranch. But I don't want to wait that long.

Justice delayed is justice denied

While I have no doubt that new revelations of wrong-doing will be found when the next president embarks on the daunting task of rebuilding the democratic republic that Bush has done his level best to destroy with his doctrine of "Shock-and-Awe," and the recently revealed Cheney Doctrine of "So?", I have little faith that a former president will be held to account for his crimes by a citizenry which just wants to be rid of him. A majority of Americans now say they want the administration to answer for its illegality, but when the nightmare is finally over, most of us have a natural tendency to want only to forget the nightmare. But forgetting would be the worst thing we could do. To forget would be to effectively condone, which would set a terrible precedent for which our children and grandchildren would most likely come to despise us.

And a new president, still riding the wave of exultation after a hard-fought victory might suddenly have feelings of magnanimity and graciousness. Even if the public cried out in anger for justice, a president flush with brand new power might falsely feel himself or herself merciful in pardoning the past wrong-doings of a used up politician already gone out to pasture to cut brush where he can do no more harm -- as Ford did with Nixon. But there can be little doubt that the pardoning of Richard Nixon has largely contributed to our current problems in dealing with a chief executive who believes himself to be all-powerful and above the law. We must set an example now if we hope to avoid making kings and dictators of future presidents.

If the wheels of justice are in motion before Bush leaves office, it would be much more difficult for a new president to pardon his crimes.

When you want something done right . . .

So what do good, patriotic Americans do when their Justice Department, Congress, and the judiciary will not uphold their oaths to defend the Constitution and preserve their rights? They do it themselves.

As the crimes of this presidency are numerous and widespread, there are hundreds of people out there who know just what those crimes are. Some of them have complied with illegal orders out of fear, or out of a sense that if the President of the United States says something is "necessary," it must be the right thing for the country. After all, he's the president, right? Many of those folks have come to the realization that this particular president has no concept of right and wrong, nor any clue about what is best for the nation. Those are the people I want to speak to. The only way to guarantee justice is for you to speak up and expose so much evidence that the Justice Dept. cannot ignore it.

Many of you are probably reluctant to come forward. You think that we, your brothers and sisters, won't understand, that we will condemn you and hate you. Or you might be afraid of the government, that if you speak out you will be harassed, fired, prosecuted or worse. But if you expose a serious crime, you need not fear the ire of your fellow citizens, we will embrace you, and thank you for doing one of the most moral, patriotic things you could ever do for your country. If you have any doubt of that, look to the examples of Jim Comey and Jack Goldsmith.

Mr. Comey, as acting attorney general, took a stand to stop a program of surveillance so invasive and illegal that several Justice Department officials and employees threatened to quit if the president continued it. Mr. Goldsmith, as the new head of the Office of Legal Counsel, discovered secret legal opinions by his predecessor that were so outrageously illegal that he rescinded them, writing new opinions that infuriated the administration and exposed such atrocities as John Yoo's infamous "Torture Memo," which advised that detainees could be abused in whatever depraved way the president desired, as long as it didn't cause organ failure or death.

Neither Mr. Comey nor Mr. Goldsmith was ridiculed or condemned by the public when their stories came out. They were hailed as heroes and champions of the rule of law. They were viewed as courageous patriots who would not allow an overreaching president to completely enslave and torture people. They were praised by representatives and senators. And while I applaud their actions, truth be told, they didn't do anything extraordinary, they only did their duty as Americans. They only told the truth.

That is all I ask of you. Some of you are employed by the government, from simple staffers to high level appointees. Some of you are in the military or intelligence agencies. Some of you are private citizens or contract employees who have done work for the government, such as Mark Klein, the AT&T technician of 22 years who revealed the existence of a special room in which whole trunk lines of fiber-optic cables carrying all foreign and domestic telephone and data communications were intercepted and collected for illegal government eavesdropping.

Evidence of serious crimes cannot be classified for the purpose of concealing them

You may have knowledge of information that the government has determined to be "classified." As we all have learned, much "classified" information should never have been classified in the first place. Much of it is simply embarrassing, and still more is kept secret only to hide lawbreaking. Americans need to know a few things about "classified" information. Classification is only proper when it is absolutely necessary for the national security of the United States. It is never proper to classify information that is only embarrassing. And it is illegal to classify information for the purpose of concealing a crime. Let me try to put this in perspective.

Many German citizens after WWII were said to have been unaware of Hitler's state-sanctioned crimes against humanity. Hitler kept their existence relatively secret, and there is no doubt the information was officially "classified" on the grounds that public knowledge could endanger national security. Would anyone today think it acceptable to keep such a secret only because of a false claim that its revelation would jeopardize security? The U.S. certainly didn't think so when we tried and hanged Nazi officers who never personally committed those crimes, but had knowledge of them and chose to keep them secret. We convicted them under a legal concept known as "command responsibility."

For our American government to think that it can conceal human rights violations in order to preserve "national security" is the most un-American idea since the nation's birth in 1776. Human rights trumps "state secrets" every single time. Bush's outrageous excuse that revealing his torture methods would "allow the enemy to adjust" is quiet possibly the most sickening thing ever to publicly pass the lips of an American president. Aside from being laughably illogical, it is totally immoral. The "enhanced interrogation techniques" the president is so fond of are the same ones we trained our special forces and airmen to resist should they be captured by an enemy state with a fondness for torture.

Before 9/11, those "techniques" were considered to be the sinister tools of totalitarian torturers. We were the "good guys," and good guys didn't do things like that. Now, the enemy is proclaimed to be so much worse than our old enemies that we can't be the good guys anymore. In fact, we are told this new enemy is so bad that we have to become at least as bad as the bad guys used to be. As Dick Cheney famously said after 9/11, we have to "work the dark side, spend time in the shadows, use any means at our disposal." So Darth Vader of you, Dick.

Telling the truth does not endanger national security

If you have knowledge of a serious crime, it is your duty to come forward even if something has been "classified," because classifying information to conceal a crime is an even bigger crime. No one is asking you to reveal information that is legitimately classified and would genuinely risk the security of our nation. If there is a genuine piece of intelligence mixed in amongst the criminal activity, precautions can be taken to ensure that part stays secret. This is no "Fifth Column" type of resistance. This is an uprising of patriots who will no longer stand by and watch as America's soul is slowly sucked out of it.

Names of undercover agents or confidential informants would be safe from exposure by everyone, except Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby. Tapes of torturous interrogations are safe in everyone's hands, except the C.I.A. Any such tapes should be published far and wide, just as the Abu Ghraib photos were, because human rights abuses should never be concealed for any reason. Faces of agents can be blurred, and the government's claim that the tapes were destroyed because they posed a danger to national security simply because they might anger foreign countries is specious -- they should anger foreign countries. That's like saying China would have been justified in keeping secret the video of the lone protester being run over by a tank in Tienanman Square because foreign nations would be outraged if they saw it.

Pick a crime . . . any crime

Of course, torture is not the only misdeed. We need you to come forward with information on all of the following issues:

  • The scope and extent of warrantless wiretapping and other domestic surveillance.

  • The locations and details about the C.I.A.'s secret prisons.

  • The political prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. A few people have already come forward, but there are others out there who know what happened and are disgusted by it. You may be an office employee, an aide, a prosecutor, or Justice Department staffer, possibly even a disillusioned appointee. We need to find out whether this man was sent to prison because of his politics.

  • Israel's bombing of the "suspected nuclear facility" in Syria.

  • The "Bent Spear" incident in which six nuclear cruise missiles were flown cross-country to Louisiana, enroute to the Middle East, "by mistake." This was prevented by Air Force and intelligence officers, including Admiral William Fallon, who was just fired for having different opinions than the president about the real location of the frontline in the so-called "war on terror."

  • The shipping of nuclear fuses for ballistic missiles "by mistake" to Taiwan.

  • The firing of several U.S. attorneys for political reasons.

  • The millions of missing White House e-mails.

  • Details about corruption and profiteering concerning military contractors in Iraq.

Misplaced loyalty

There is a totally backwards attitude in Washington that assumes any person appointed or elected to a position in the executive branch has only two choices when they believe the president is breaking the law or lying to the people:

1) Keep your mouth shut and play ball by the president's rules instead of those specified in the Constitution which you have sworn to uphold.

2) Resign and keep your mouth shut.

Neither of those is acceptable. There is a big difference in serving "at the pleasure of the president" and serving "for the pleasure of the president," or "to pleasure the president." The loyalty of any government official, without exception and at all times, must belong to the Constitution and to the people. Every decision the official makes, and every action he takes must be in the best interest of the nation, and if that conflicts with a president's agenda, the president can like it or lump it. If it doesn't please him, he can dismiss the appointee. The appointee must realize that fear of dismissal is not a justification for shirking his responsibility to the people.

There are very few public servants who actually serve the president. His private counsel, his office staff and aides, chauffeur, and to a certain degree, the Secret Service. Nearly every other federal public servant is obligated not to the president but to the people. The president might appoint a U.S. attorney, but the that attorney is not beholden to the president. He serves the people and owes his allegiance to the Constitution.

Take the case of former C.I.A. director George Tenet. He alleges that he believed the evidence being presented to the American public to justify war with Iraq was not accurate. He did nothing about it. He let the administration drag us into war based on lies. If what he says is true, he belongs in prison right now. He was complicit in the crimes, even if the words "slam dunk" never passed his lips.

If a president will not respect the Constitution and the rule of law, then he disrespects his own office and should be afforded no loyalty by those who have sworn loyalty to the Constitution. To remain loyal to such a president is tantamount to treason.

George W. Bush has done more damage to the country than any suicide bomber ever could, which puts him on the borderline of being one those "domestic enemies" the founders warned us about. The time has come for a peaceful mutiny and a harsh reckoning.

The decision is not an especially difficult one. Just ask yourself if 20 years from now, you will be able to look back on this time and be proud of your decision. James Comey certainly did and told his colleagues that they would all be "ashamed" when the world eventually learned what they were doing.

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