Sheehan and Bostaph: A Common Cause
A Common Cause
By Cindy Sheehan and Sam Bostaph
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Wednesday 01 March 2006
Three years ago, President George Bush ordered United States military forces to invade and occupy Iraq. Since that invasion, which was unconstitutional, illegal by all international standards, and immoral by any just war theologies, the world has watched as the Bush administration has directed the killing of tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers, civilians and insurgents at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars. It has watched as over 2,300 US troops have been killed to date and almost 18,000 more wounded or maimed for life. It has watched the Bush administration kidnap, imprison and torture hundreds of foreign nationals, as well as American citizens, without either trial or conviction. It has watched as Bush administration lackeys have transported prisoners to secret prisons and then delivered them to torturers in less-developed countries. For three years, it has heard George Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and Condi Rice move from one lie to another to justify each of these actions.
Just recently, Americans learned that these war criminals also have been secretly spying domestically, in clear violation of federal law. On Monday, February 6, 2006, the Attorney General of the United States of America appeared before the US Senate Judiciary Committee to defend the "terrorist surveillance program" that President George W. Bush ordered into existence in 2001. Both in a prepared statement and in his testimony before the committee, Alberto R. Gonzales defended the National Security Agency's warrantless, domestic wiretapping program as "lawful, reasonable and essential."
Gonzales claimed that domestic spying is an essential tool in the overall "War on Terror." He gave as the legal basis for this NSA program his opinion that Article II of the Constitution of the United States gives the President of the United States the authority and "inherent power" to do anything he thinks necessary to protect Americans. He also said that many federal government lawyers agree with him on the question of presidential power. And besides, he added, Congress even authorized the President to respond with military force to the September 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks with its "Authorization for Use of Military Force" of September 18, 2001 - and he characterized this domestic "spying" as a "military action." He denied that the President was in any way constrained by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that Congress had passed in 1978.
Attorney General Gonzales was not testifying under oath, and he refused to answer any specific questions about the spying program or to give any examples of instances where the program provided protection for Americans. We are all just supposed to take his word for the content and effectiveness of Bush's domestic spying program. We are all to take the word of a member of this criminal administration that what they are doing is completely legal and for our own good.
In an editorial in the February 13, 2006, Wall Street Journal, University of Chicago Distinguished Service Professor of Law Richard A. Epstein presented the reason why George Bush has clearly exceeded his Constitutional powers in ignoring the FISA. It is that nothing in Congress's authorization of the use of military force in 2001 allows President Bush to ignore the FISA it had previously passed. Congress sets policy in matters of war and peace, the president executes it. It's just that simple. Epstein adds that only Congress can declare war; only Congress can fund war; and, only Congress can "make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces." We would add one more important fact - Congress has not declared war! Bush declared it when he invaded Afghanistan and then Iraq in clear violation of the Constitution he swore to uphold. We also would like to remind the Attorney General of the United States that the "War on Terror" is a catchphrase containing an amorphous and invented opponent. Just look at the phrase: "War on Terror." What can be worse than terror? We must have a war against it. We are allowing our leaders to wage war on a word. A concept. But real people are being destroyed by their expedient tail-wagging-dog phrase.
This is a time when people from all colors of the political spectrum must unite against this lawless administration. The recent escalation in fighting among Shi'ite and Sunni factions and their joint call for an end to the US occupation show clearly that the continued presence of US forces in Iraq serves no interest of the American people. All Americans must demand that George Bush stop his war in Iraq and bring our troops home now. All of us must demand that he stop using the war he started to justify his continuing lawless campaign against whomever he decides to call an enemy. The discovery of this latest spying program makes it clear that he has been using his foreign wars to justify a domestic one - he has been attacking us!
It is clear that the Bush administration seeks nothing less than to use the wars they started in order destroy the rule of law in this country and replace it with the rule of an undistinguished former cheerleader. After all, in terms of being governed, there are only two alternatives: either we are to be ruled by law or we are to be ruled by someone else. To be ruled by law means that every one of us has a solid foundation in law for planning his or her personal future and achieving personal goals. That was the original purpose of the US Constitution - to give us that legal foundation. To be ruled by someone else is to be a slave.
And there are people in this country who are willing to accept the role of obedient servant to a state that is out of control and dangerously corrupt. During the week of February 12, a former employee of the Justice Department told attendees at the annual meetings of the Conservative Political Action Conference that the rule of law must be abandoned in order for George Bush to protect us from al Qaeda. The response was not boos and cries of "For shame, for shame;" it was a standing ovation! The boos were reserved for former congressman Bob Barr, when he responded that the first loyalty of all Americans is to our Constitution. In reporting on the CPAC goings on, Paul Craig Roberts aptly labeled this audience response as a signal that American Conservatism is transforming into "brown-shirtism." We agree.
Even more do we agree with one another that the ideological differences that exist between Cindy and Sam must be set aside in the interest of a united front against this obscene war. If she had to do so, Cindy would describe herself as a progressive humanist who wants the militarism of America and the world to be replaced with kinder, more gentler foreign and domestic policies. She passionately believes that the vast amounts of our tax dollars that are being dumped into war and wasted by the "War" Department every year need to be returned to our communities to build a culture of plenty and peace.
If he had to do so, Sam would describe himself as a political and economic libertarian who wants a government that is limited solely to the protection of our human rights. This would eliminate almost all departments and agencies of the federal, state and local governments as they exist now. Like Cindy, he wants an end to militarism, the return of all US military forces to the continental US, and the closure of all foreign bases.
But, Cindy and Sam are "we" in this struggle against the fascist, war-like society that America has become - particularly under the Bush regime - and "we" want a lot of company.
Whatever your political identification, please join us at Easter for a protest at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas, from the 10th of April to the 16th. There, "we" will be joined by Katrina evacuees who are still unbelievably and unconscionably ensconced in the Astrodome and who will be invited to stay on our leased land next to the Secret Service checkpoint of the Bush faux-ranch on Prairie Chapel Road, until their homes are rebuilt in the Gulf States and they can return. The displaced Katrina victims care nothing about partisan politics or demented pork barrel peddling and cronyism; they just want to go home. "We" will be joined in Crawford by Progressive Democratic Congressional candidates from all over the country, who are running for office against pro-war Democrats and Republicans. "We" will again be joined by old hippies, grandmas and grandpas and young activists; and we will be joined by Iraqi war veterans, as well as fresh-faced students who look like they just walked off the pages of a Gap catalog onto the Texas prairie.
"We," the authors of this article, have formed an unlikely friendship and partnership for peace. Our last collaborative piece, "The Human Cost of War," appeared in diverse online journals from Marxist sites to Libertarian ones. Those journals may be in deep philosophical opposition on other questions, but on this one they are as anti-war as we are. "We" the people of America need to reach deep inside ourselves and pull out the essential goodness that connects all of humanity together. Then, we can honor our differences, while uniting in opposition to the exploitation and ruination of our American way of life by the Bush crime family and its cronies. However, our biggest enemy is the citizens of this country's general ennui and complacency in the face of BushCo's blatant and bloody affronts to humanity.
"We" the people of America need to form a true coalition of peace if we are to reclaim our humanity and our inalienable birthrights.
Everyone is welcome. Everyone is needed.
Cindy Sheehan is the proud mother of Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan, who was 24 when he was KIA in Sadr City, Iraq, on 04/04/04. She is also the author of Not One More Mother's Child available at www.koabooks.com. Cindy is the founder and President of Gold Star Families for Peace www.GSFP.org, Cindy is, above all, the very proud mother of Carly, Andy, and Janey Sheehan, who hold down the fort in California.
Sam Bostaph, PhD, is Professor of Economics and Chairman,
Department of Economics, University of Dallas. He is the
author of numerous scholarly articles on topics in
intellectual history and economic theory. A former Marine
who later served as a US Army intelligence staff officer
during the Vietnam War era, he is the proud father of Katie
and Megan Bostaph and prays that they may never go to war