Thursday, June 12, 2008

Impeach Scalia, Now

For fear-mongering, I would submit to you that the time has come to impeach Justice Antonin Scalia:

In the wake of today's 5-4 decision to grant Habeas Corpus rights to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, this is what Think Progress found:

Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, however, is outraged. In his dissenting opinion, he devoted an entire section to “a description of the disastrous consequences of what the Court has done today,” a procedure “contrary to my usual practice,” he admitted. Scalia adopted extreme rhetoric about the impacts of the decision, calling it a “self-invited…incursion into military affairs” that would “almost certainly” kill Americans. Some lowlights:

– “America is at war with radical Islamists. … Our Armed Forces are now in the field against the enemy, in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

– “The game of bait-and-switch that today’s opinion plays upon the Nation’s Commander in Chief will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.”

– “Today the Court warps our Constitution.”

– “The Nation will live to regret what the Court has done today.”

The time has come to impeach Justice Scalia. Fear mongering is inexcuseable.

Even though he wasn't removed from the court, a Justice can be tried for his conduct. Samuel Chase is the only Supreme Court Justice to be impeached:

[Justice Samuel] Chase was served with six articles of impeachment by the House of Representatives in late 1804, one of which involved Chase's handling of the trial of John Fries. Two more focused on his conduct in the political libel trial of John Thompson Callender. Four articles focused on procedural errors made during Chase's adjudication of various matters, and an eighth was directed to his “intemperate and inflammatory … peculiarly indecent and unbecoming … highly unwarrantable … highly indecent” remarks while "charging" or authorizing a Baltimore grand jury. The Democratic-Republican-controlled United States Senate began the impeachment trial of Chase in early 1805, with Vice President Aaron Burr presiding.

Fear mongering is just another way of terrorizing the American people: It is as thought the "war on terror" needs surety bonds just to insure any sort of a victory!

Zbigniew Brzezinski:

To justify the "war on terror," the administration has lately crafted a false historical narrative that could even become a self-fulfilling prophecy. By claiming that its war is similar to earlier U.S. struggles against Nazism and then Stalinism (while ignoring the fact that both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were first-rate military powers, a status al-Qaeda neither has nor can achieve), the administration could be preparing the case for war with Iran. Such war would then plunge America into a protracted conflict spanning Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and perhaps also Pakistan.

The culture of fear is like a genie that has been let out of its bottle. It acquires a life of its own -- and can become demoralizing. America today is not the self-confident and determined nation that responded to Pearl Harbor; nor is it the America that heard from its leader, at another moment of crisis, the powerful words "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself"; nor is it the calm America that waged the Cold War with quiet persistence despite the knowledge that a real war could be initiated abruptly within minutes and prompt the death of 100 million Americans within just a few hours. We are now divided, uncertain and potentially very susceptible to panic in the event of another terrorist act in the United States itself.

That is the result of five years of almost continuous national brainwashing on the subject of terror, quite unlike the more muted reactions of several other nations (Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany, Japan, to mention just a few) that also have suffered painful terrorist acts. In his latest justification for his war in Iraq, President Bush even claims absurdly that he has to continue waging it lest al-Qaeda cross the Atlantic to launch a war of terror here in the United States.

Such fear-mongering, reinforced by security entrepreneurs, the mass media and the entertainment industry, generates its own momentum. The terror entrepreneurs, usually described as experts on terrorism, are necessarily engaged in competition to justify their existence. Hence their task is to convince the public that it faces new threats. That puts a premium on the presentation of credible scenarios of ever-more-horrifying acts of violence, sometimes even with blueprints for their implementation.

That America has become insecure and more paranoid is hardly debatable. A recent study reported that in 2003, Congress identified 160 sites as potentially important national targets for would-be terrorists. With lobbyists weighing in, by the end of that year the list had grown to 1,849; by the end of 2004, to 28,360; by 2005, to 77,769. The national database of possible targets now has some 300,000 items in it, including the Sears Tower in Chicago and an Illinois Apple and Pork Festival.

Just last week, here in Washington, on my way to visit a journalistic office, I had to pass through one of the absurd "security checks" that have proliferated in almost all the privately owned office buildings in this capital -- and in New York City. A uniformed guard required me to fill out a form, show an I.D. and in this case explain in writing the purpose of my visit. Would a visiting terrorist indicate in writing that the purpose is "to blow up the building"? Would the guard be able to arrest such a self-confessing, would-be suicide bomber? To make matters more absurd, large department stores, with their crowds of shoppers, do not have any comparable procedures. Nor do concert halls or movie theaters. Yet such "security" procedures have become routine, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and further contributing to a siege mentality.

Government at every level has stimulated the paranoia. Consider, for example, the electronic billboards over interstate highways urging motorists to "Report Suspicious Activity" (drivers in turbans?). Some mass media have made their own contribution. The cable channels and some print media have found that horror scenarios attract audiences, while terror "experts" as "consultants" provide authenticity for the apocalyptic visions fed to the American public. Hence the proliferation of programs with bearded "terrorists" as the central villains. Their general effect is to reinforce the sense of the unknown but lurking danger that is said to increasingly threaten the lives of all Americans.

Justice Scalia crossed a line with his dissent, and to say of the decision of the court in dissent that "It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed" is to betray his true allegiance, and that is, not to this country, not to the laws which govern us, not to the freedom we cherish or to the rule of law but to George Bush.

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