|May 19, 2006|
I Do Not Feel Safer
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
Yesterday I watched the confirmation hearings of a Lt. General Michael V. Hayden. George W. Bush wants to appoint him head of the CIA. I listened very closely to what he said, to the senators questioning him, and I felt chilled.
Perhaps because I was reading the book, Night, by Elie Wiesel, which cataloged the benign steps leading up to the removal of Jews from his hometown of Sighet. Or perhaps it was a convergence of unrelated articles from the “mainstream media.”
Like the article about new steps taken to “profile” airline passengers by “another layer of security” using “behavioral profiling.” We already know that the much used “no-fly” list contains at least a quarter of million names and that among them were a U. S. Senator and a Congressman and a four year old boy who just wanted to visit his grandmother. Now, this same agency, TSA, plans to judge your behavior to see if you are nervous, stressed, wearing a coat - all considered suspicious behavior.
Coupled with the knowledge that some screener, with no psychological training, is judging my body language, my stress levels, my body temperature; all of which could be caused by an argument, fear of flying, important meeting, a cold coming on, or a death in the family, I see the shadows of 1984 in my future; your future.
Or the video footage of a car; open doors, dead driver; that “someone reported picking up four people” that the informant had decided were illegal aliens. I’m sure we all know that this car had pulled out of a line of traffic at the border crossing, then started to pull back in the line of traffic just as the border guard began to approach it. How many times have we done that for reasons that had nothing to do with doing something illegal. But now, this “suspicious” behavior is enough to shoot the driver “multiple” times without even asking a question. Guilty by actions or by ethnicity?
Or the “media” reports that seem to indicate that the appointment of General Hayden is already a “done deal,” that the questioning during this job interview is just routine, not an opportunity to gain information about the direction this appointment would be taking the country.
And it does not make me feel safer that the man who will be responsible for the CIA; an agency that is SUPPOSED to work outside the USA; is one of the architects of the illegal wiretapping system that targets minnows (citizens) instead of sharks (al Qaida) in our big ocean of spies (NSA).
I do not feel safer knowing that Lt. General Hayden has a master’s degree in history but does not realize that the “Article II authority” he spoke about yesterday does not exist in the Constitution. He says he is taking it on faith, the assurance of people he trusts, that a president has the power to spy upon the citizens of the country he serves. His faith in the legality of these authoritarian powers does not reassure me.
But the presidential powers he speaks of have never become amendments to Our Constitution and, therefore, can not be “legal” powers at all. This is not something secret or beyond our grasp of reason. This was knowledge I was required to know before I could graduate junior high school. Lt. General Hayden should know it, too.
It does not reassure me that Lt. General Hayden, born in 1945, 1967 college graduate, ROTC member, somehow escaped assignment to Viet Nam and spent most of his time in some form of military intelligence. He says he can separate a lifelong connection to the military and refuse the orders of Donald Rumsfeld; and yet, he could not parse Article II free of omniscient presidential powers.
I fear this road we are traveling when we build fences against our neighbors who have done us no harm. I see our Bill of Rights slowly being breached like the levees in New Orleans. And we, like the families of Sighet, watch and wait and tell ourselves, it won’t be that bad. Reason will prevail. Won’t it?
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
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