Back in the U.S.S.A.

Adam Milasincic

Herbert Hoover promised Americans “a chicken in every pot.” Now, George W. Bush warns of a terrorist under every bed.

Hoover’s promise was a hat-tip to the emerging ideology of welfare socialism; Bush’s is a thumbs-up for the paranoid kookiness of the Soviet police state.

On Dec. 20, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales sounded the hysteria alarm over the Senate’s refusal to endorse a blanket extension of the Patriot Act.

“If the (Patriot Act) impasse continues, when Americans wake up on Jan. 1, we will not be as safe,” he said.

To be clear, the senators blocking the act’s extension were primarily concerned by three controversial provisions. They made known their willingness to reauthorize the bulk of the act before its expiration, but Bush wouldn’t bite. It seems the nukes begin to fall the day after covert library searches cease.

It’s evidently quite bothersome to Bush he has to continue addressing all this. He has already presented such an airtight case.

A Justice Department document released last week takes 42 stem-winding pages to restate its huffy introductory clause: “As the president has explained… .”

The entire Justice Department appeal strives to create “wink-wink” legal justifications for the president’s domestic spying program. Essentially, the argument comes down to this — it’s legal because the president says so.

“The authorization for the use of military force places the president at the zenith of his powers in authorizing the NSA activities,” the report said.

In other words, the Constitution gives Bush the power to do what the Constitution prohibits. Simple, right?

For you dummies out there, warrantless surveillance of American citizens is vaguely pooh-poohed in the Fourth Amendment – “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated” – while the president is expressly authorized to conduct secret wiretaps by Article II: “The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.” Where’s the confusion?

At least Bush didn’t start the fire.

“Wiretaps for such purposes have … been authorized by presidents at least since the administration of Franklin Roosevelt in 1940.” As a rule, any policy emanating from the Roosevelt years is by nature unconstitutional and wrong. Republicans used to know that.

The Justice Department apology for domestic spying cynically quotes James Madison in stating that “security against foreign danger is one of the primitive objects of civil society.”

The department’s writers would have done well to read on in “Federalist No. 41,” where Madison warns of a far greater danger:

“Not the less true is it, that the liberties of Rome proved the final victim to her military triumphs; and that the liberties of Europe, as far as they ever existed, have, with few exceptions, been the price of her military establishments…”

If my byline does not appear next week, assume this column was intercepted and its author deported to a CIA gulag in Romania. Long live the Republic.

Adam Milasincic is a senior journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].