EASTSIDER-As a product of the ‘60s and UC Berkeley (photo above), I am not overly fond of the CIA and the FBI. Yet I find myself in the odd position of actually defending them. Strange times indeed.
Back in the day, these institutions were not fans of the First Amendment or any Rights to Privacy. It was the era of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), with its truly evil lawyer, Roy Cohn, and a budding young Richard Nixon. Tactics like infiltration and disinformation which surrounded the railroading of Martin Luther King and the Black Panthers, FBI Red Squads at UC Berkeley and the like did not leave a good taste for my generation.
However, over time we got past the Vietnam War and enough of its scars to start functioning again as a society. And eventually the reality was that the Spooks were trying in their own twisty little way to keep us safe from foreign threats; the FBI was doing a reasonable job of going after real crooks, be they mobsters or money launders, or crooked officials.
Then came 9/11 and our world of manageable corruption abruptly ended. In the aftermath of this unthinkable destruction, we wound up with an abomination called The Bush Doctrine. That bit of insanity held and still holds that the United States no longer respects the boundaries of nation-states, and reserves the unilateral right to go after anyone we think is a “Terrorist” anywhere on earth. Borders be dammed.
I blame most of the ill effects of the Bush Doctrine on Congress. Even though they have the express right to declare war under the Constitution. Terrified of being branded as “soft on terrorism,” the overwhelming majority of Congress signed on to the doctrine and expressly gave the President the power to do whatever the heck the President wants to do in the name of preventing terrorism. It is known as the AUMF, or Authorization for Use of Military Force, and was signed into law in 20012. Never been revisited since.
Among other, things, the doctrine was the basis for our unilateral invasion of Iraq, as noted by the Constitutional Rights Foundation.
In effectuating all of these policies, the CIA, the NSA, Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Justice and a bunch of other hidden pieces of the Federal Government started spying on everyone, including you and me. All in the name of keeping us safe.
Up is down and so are the Republicans
When I grew up, the Republicans were the steadfast supporters of law and order no matter what, and the Dems were perceived to be somehow soft on lefties and crooks.
But somewhere between Bush and Donald Trump, the Republicans decided that they want to take out the FBI and the Department of Justice.
This is nuts. Devin Nunes (R-CA 22nd District) who is Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and some guy named Robert W. Goodlatte (R-VA), who is Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, are going after the DOJ and the FBI because the federal cops want to do their job and investigate whether the Russians really interfered in our Presidential election, and whether President Trump and his campaign were all in to help.
You don’t have to believe me. Check out this video and article on Trump’s bible, Fox News.
And this is after the Republicans were already able to get their very own Republican politician, Mike Pompeo, as the Director of the CIA.
Holy Moly, Batman! Down is Up, and Up is Down.
So here I am, a hardcore First Amendment stalwart who believes that the Bill of Rights and Privacy Rights trump any federal government trampling on those rights under the guise that they will somehow make us safer. And I’m actually stepping up and supporting the intelligence community, the FBI, and the DOJ. Who’d have thunk it?
The reason is simple. If we actually want to protect our electoral system of government, these are the only folks who are in a position to do it. Keep knocking them down and disparaging their work and ultimately people will decide that they are as corrupt and as big a bunch of liars as the Congress.
At some point we won’t have a tamper-proof election process, and/or a way to keep its integrity. That’s a big deal. Courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court, we already have elections based on the premise of one dollar, one vote, instead of one person, one vote. We have big political donors putting the fix in on the tax code bill so that it will benefit them and their rich elected political surrogates in Congress. We cannot afford further dismantling of our supposedly best-ever election system in the world.
The idea that our justice system should be loyal to the President of the United States is ludicrous. Do you know how many incredibly flawed Presidents this nation has endured? They are supposed to be loyal to our system of law and justice, not a frail Congress or a President.
As for the Republicans calling for a witch hunt which co-mingles the FBI, the Attorney General, and Hillary Clinton, they should go back and hire Roy Cohn as their lawyer, except for the fact that he (and HUAC) are already dead.
The truth is that the law enforcement community doesn’t really like freedom of speech and rights to privacy, because these statutory freedoms interfere in their ability to catch the bad guys. That’s their job and they will go as far as they can to do it, individual rights or no.
This has always been tension between freedoms and security, and until recently bedrock Republican ideology was on the side of law enforcement. Now there are a bunch of Republican political hacks who want to reverse course, with all the moral integrity of feral pigs. Not only that, instead of instantly being thrown out of the Party, the Republican leadership is strangely silent.
Fortunately, I have a solution. I think the cure is for AG Jeff Sessions to reverse course on marijuana, the partaking of which no one is actually going to be able to stop anyhow. Then he and this bizarre secret society of Republicans can roll up some doobies, and have a good long smoke. Then maybe Up will return to Up and Down will return to Down.
(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.