After a week of sleepless nights, I finally sort of got my new toy, a Philips Streamium SL400i, working. I now have everything – Naruto, my CD rips, IFilm, Yahoo! trailers, webcams from raves in Hungary, BBC, Finnish music news, NASA educationals, and every web radio station – at my disposal. Had I paid the original retail amount of $450 for this thing, I'd have been pissed at the blood sweat and tears I poured into getting the stupid thing to work. But Fry's had them for $79.92, and my rage was channeled into my nightly sessions of practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu on my cat.
So that explains my absence for the past week. In real news, if you haven't been following, today was a very important hearing with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales by the Senate Judiciary Committee on war-time powers abuse, specifically wire-tapping citizens, which I managed to listen to the entirety of.
My synopsis, as neutrally as possible, is as follows:
1. An act specifically granting the president certain powers stipulates that wire-tapping is forbidden.
2. The attorney general responded to the act with an interpretation that reinstated the inherent power of a president during wartime, to the shock but few contrary motions of some senators.
3. A large number of names to investigate was culled through the usage of these powers, enough to garner suspicion that the power was being abused.
4. The contention that check and balances must be maintained during war-time is relatively neglected by the Constitution where it states that the president has said inherent powers, and of the role of Congress in war. Therefore, an act passed through Congress is potentially unconstitutional despite the need for the auditing of military powers.
That's it for my neutrality.
In short, it's nebulous whether or not Congress has the right to overwrite what a president perceives to be within his inherent war-time powers. Justice O' Connor ruled that in the case of HAMDI vs. RUMSFELD, a presidential writ was enough to warrant detaining a U.S. citizen given probable cause WITHOUT the need for a warrant, so long as he was classified an "enemy combatant." Her contention that detaining was far more invasive than wire-tapping seems to give an unspoken support for current intelligence gathering techniques. More importantly, the president's inherent power overrode whatever acts were in place via Congress.
This is an extremely important situation upon which the nation's very balance of power hangs. Ultra-liberal radio stations in the area had a field day with insults and rhetoric, but this transcends partisanship. Making matters worse is how unforthcoming the administration is. There are two reasons for this: they are abusing the power, and/or they know no matter what they say that Americans will perceive as an abuse of power. It's all very Heisenberg… to divulge what they are doing compromises the new techniques in place that makes intelligence effective, but to not open up creates public panic and thus greater scrutiny on their practices. One can not practice frankness and effective intelligence at the same time. Some went so far as to ask intelligence experts to reveal what secret words they scan phone calls for, in dire fear they may be marked as terrorists.
It's rough that the Constitution leaves this loophole for the branches to pounce on each other about. It is not simple, however, to resolve this issue since "reasonable measures" to ensure security, depending on who's definition of "reasonable" matters, will end up nearly unchecked as a lion's share of military power for one branch. It's even rougher that Americans naively demand information that, upon being revealed, destroyed the very work it sets out to do. While I have no doubt that our civil rights have been violated and that Alberto Gonzales knows more than he can cover up, I also know that we have to make a decision between candidness from the NSA or CIA, and homeland security. I have the utmost respect for those unwilling to lay down their civil rights, but my choice to do so should be respected as well.
Step away from the drivel spilling out of KPFA's shameless little mouth, away from the demonizing by the likes of demon incarnate herself Feinstein and Co.; this is not a battle between democrats and republicans, but between Congress and the executive branch, and ultimately against two equally important clauses in the Constitution. Truth be told, and truth was told, James Risen did a fabulous job exposing the lies and cover-ups of the administration, and in doing so violated the Espionage Act. He should take his punishment like a virtuous man, not a fucking whining namecaller boohooing about being singled out. His account, while sensational, galvanized the nation to address the REAL issue. Where inherent powers' limits are. And he couldn't have done it without a president who, despite being just as (or less) "corrupt" as every war-time president of the past, is such a public goofus that we're finally seeing some gallant. Americans are so predictable, but politics are so quantum.