BALANCE“If people can’t trust not only the executive branch, but also don’t trust Congress, and don’t trust federal judges, to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.” Obama added that the National Security agents behind the surveillance programs “cherish our Constitution…You can shout Big Brother or program run amok, but if you actually look at the details, I think we’ve struck the right balance,” he explained.

I actually felt a sense of relief when I read Obama’s statement. Finally, he gets it. We don’t trust him, or Congress, or the political appointees we loosely call federal judges. I can’t think of a single reason to place my faith in any of them.

Can you?

In my lifetime, the last executive I felt willing to trust was Kennedy.

And I was three.

I may have been taken in!

Look, we shouldn’t trust these people. And history bears this out.

Take Lyndon Johnson and his winking Congress. They led us into the undeclared Vietnam catastrophe. Did you know that the Viet Cong were quite comfortable ignoring the Geneva Convention because we didn’t formally declare war? As a result, U.S. POWs could be classified as political criminals…and tortured.

And of course, we were all disgusted with Nixon’s betrayal of the country in the Watergate affair. But like jailing Capone for tax evasion, we hardly nailed Nixon’s greatest crime. Under his leadership, supported by Congress, and repeatedly upheld by our courts, the shredding of the Fourth Amendment became a federal past-time. Thanks to the criminalization of drugs, policing shifted from community service to community intimidation. RICO laws sank to IRS levels, eliminating due process. Suddenly, property could be taken from an individual just on the suspicion of wrongdoing – no conviction required. DUI checkpoints, once illegal, became commonplace. Prior to that, police had to observe driving behavior and have probable cause in order to stop you. Oh, and if pulled over, our automobiles used to be safe from police searches under the Fourth Amendment. No longer. All thanks to the War on Drugs.

And finally, we have the world of Bush and Obama. Frankly, I can’t tell them apart. They’ve combined to develop the ultimate means of rendering irrelevant protections such as due process, habeas corpus, warrantless searches, right to an attorney… you get the idea. They just slap down the terrorism card.

Woohoo! Even better than drugs.

What will they think of next?

No, don’t trust them. Not the president. Not Congress. Not federal judges. None of them. Obama has it exactly backward. We did trust them. And now we have some problems here!

“In questions of power…let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” — Thomas Jefferson

 

Susan Kennison