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Royal Government

March 30th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

emperorbush.gif

Three separate stories tonight—one on television, two on radio
—addressed the idea that the Bush Administration has created what many have called an Imperial Presidency—a presidency that believes itself above the US courts, above the necessity to honor long-standing government treaties, and above international law.

The first of the three stories was the much ballyhooed 60 Minutes segment
about Murat Kurnaz, a German traveling in Pakistan who was nabbed three months after 9/11 and transported to Afghanistan where he says he was tortured severely. It seemed to matter little that the FBI, U.S. intelligence and German intelligence had reportedly concluded that Kurnaz was innocent of the terrorism charges brought against him. He was subsequently transferred to Guantanamo where charges against him fell further apart. In 2002, German intelligence agents wrote their government, saying, “USA considers Murat Kurnaz’s innocence to be proven. He is to be released in approximately six to eight weeks.” Instead, Kurnaz was kept in Guantanamo for an additional three and a half years.

When contacted, the US Department of Defense
responded to 60 Minutes in letter form that called Kurnaz’ accusations outlandish and unsubstantiated.

The second two stories were on this week’s This American Life. In one episode, TAL tells about the more than a hundred foreign women who got married to Americans, then had their spouses die less than two years after the marriage. The US government responded to their grief and loss by curtly informed the widows “You’re no longer married to Americans. Your citizen application is denied. Now get out of the country.” The widows went to court over the matter, and the court told the government that it had to let the women stay. But the US government ignored the court and told them they have to leave anyway.

Story three was about an American couple who lived on the Canadian border and decided to build a retaining wall inside the ten-foot buffer zone that is on either side of the international boundary. The International Boundary Commission told the Americans that they couldn’t have the wall inside the buffer zone and would have to take it down. The Americans sued the Commission, the bi-national entity created by a 1925 treaty to inspect and oversee the US Canada border. And that’s when the Bush administration stepped in….

You can hear the rest on
This American Life here. (The promos up now, and podcasts will be available of the program in a few days)

In a way this is all an old issue. We have long been aware that in instances ranging from FISA to signing statements, when the Bush administration doesn’t like a law or a legal ruling it pretty much does what it pleases regardless of restrictions placed on it by Congress or courts.

But the real question is, what will happen next January
when we have a new president? Wll he or she keep the newly established Imperial presidency, or dismantle it.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Guantanamo, International politics | 11 Comments »

11 Responses

  1. Woody Says:

    It’s sad when a serious journalist relies on “60 Minutes” for reliable stories.

    We have a neighbor who built a six foot fence in their back yard, but zoning only allowed a four foot fence. A local business expanded their building and it turned out that it was a couple of feet over the setback. Guess what. They both have to tear down or back the offending structures. It’s stupid, but it’s government.

    If seemingly crazy actions make it a “royal” government, then at least it’s not Camelot–the royal government over which liberals fawned.

  2. richard locicero Says:

    When Hillary is President I think Woody will be singing a very different tune!

  3. Woody Says:

    Will Hillary allow fences over four feet high? I hope she starts building them along our border with Mexico.

  4. Randy Paul Says:

    It’s sad when a serious journalist relies on “60 Minutes” for reliable stories

    Yeah those 14 Peabody Awards don’t mean squat, do they? Damn those liberals at the University of Georgia.

  5. WBC Says:

    I happened to hear that episode of American Life — the woman talked about how there was no mention in her title when she bought the home of an easement, and so having to cede part of their yard deprived her of its value. But I don’t see how her trying to get the gov’t to intercede by suing (a right anyone has) makes it “Imperial” or related to the Guanatamo issue and the Patriot Act. She should probably have sued the Title Company for not finding this out, first.

    Personally, I’d stay away from any house right on the border but on the southern borders, it’s far, far worse — drug and human trafficking on both sides, leaving entire ranches and even towns in ruins. Even the left-leaning L A Weekly (not quite so predictably so under Jill Stewart) had a story within the last year detailing one typical, devastated town on the U. S. side, and just this week the police chief of a Mexican border town sought asylum in the U. S. fearing for his life.

    Woody, it’s interesting to see what Hillary will do as President. She’s had to match Obama’s views and shifted left, but used to be more in sync with McCain and the mainstream of the Congress — will probably shift back to reflect public will, like having to back-pedal on driver’s licenses for illegals in NYC.

    BTW, putting this illegal immigration issue in international perspective, the “new Europe” Eastern European countries just negotiated easier terms regarding tourist visas to the U.S. Since 9/11 they’ve not only had to undergo rigorous background and financial checks, but have had to appear in person at the U. S. Consulate in their capitol cities to be fingerprinted and photographed. Some 15% have been rejected (usually because their domestic ties weren’t “certain” enough to ensure their return home, or their national quota was exceeded) in which case they have to wait a full year before being allowed to reapply. Many boycotted America in protest. By the end of this year, they expect the same eased requirements of “old Europe.”

  6. Woody Says:

    Yeah, the Peabody Awards, like Mr. Peabody and the Way-Back Machine, because most of the awards that 60 Minutes received from this group were wayyy back.

    I don’t simplify my decisions by seeing how others vote. I decide for myself, so the Peabody Awards mean as much to me as do the Oscars. Let me do a journalistic ambush of the 60 Minutes crowd, like they do others, and they would fall apart. They are the equivalent of the National Enquirer for television.

  7. Celeste Fremon Says:

    WBC, the point of the 2nd This American Life story was not that the people sued.

    The homeowners just wanted to be able to put up a wall on their own property. But, sometimes you can’t build in an easement—which was basically the case here. I have such restrictions on my own land in Topanga. If you don’t like it you can sue but, in most cases, you won’t win. As you said, the property owners likely should have gone after the Realtor for nondisclosure.

    The creepy part was when the Bush administration stepped in and said that the Boundary Commission belonged to the US and had to do what the executive branch of the US government told it to do. Screw the treaty that established the bi-national Commission and the treaty that had been sacrosanct since 1925. That’s when the imperial part came in.

  8. Randy Paul Says:

    because most of the awards that 60 Minutes received from this group were wayyy back.

    [...]

    Let me do a journalistic ambush of the 60 Minutes crowd, like they do others, and they would fall apart

    They won in 2006, 2004, 2003, 2001, 2000, 1998, 1997, 1993, 1991 and 1988. Ten of their Peabody Awards in the last twenty years.

    If the above is the quality of your research, Woody, they have nothing to worry about.

    It’s rare to see such a public display of cluelessness.

  9. Woody Says:

    Ohhhh. Ten in the last twenty years! Four in the twenty years before that. Hey, it looks as if the quality of my research is still better than the quality of the integrity of 60 Minutes. Do I hear anyone say Dan Rather?

  10. Randy Paul Says:

    Hey, it looks as if the quality of my research is still better than the quality of the integrity of 60 Minutes

    here’s what you wrote:

    Yeah, the Peabody Awards, like Mr. Peabody and the Way-Back Machine, because most of the awards that 60 Minutes received from this group were wayyy back.

    Disproven. They’ve won five in the last eight years. You’re not a serious person, Woody.

    Over the course of twenty years, they’ve won one just about every two years. P.S. Woody: It’s an annual award. There are no set categories. The awards committee chooses to award the Peabodies as they see fit.

    Honestly, you wear your silly-assed tendentiousness like a badge of honor.

  11. Randy Paul Says:

    Another Peabody for 60 Minutes.

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