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America's Most Anti-Democratic Institution: How the Imperial Presidency Threatens U.S. National Security

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: abuse, constitution, executive branch, ethics, freedoms, government, lies, usa, secrecy, surveillance, drones, NDAA, foreign policy, domestic policy, POTUS, agencies, NSA, CIA, FBI )

- 1802 days ago -
It's evil, lawless and authoritarian. And as NSA leaker Snowden has shown us, its aims are to be all-powerful. ... The Executive Branch is also America's most undemocratic and thus unamerican institution.

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Lynn Squance (235)
Tuesday June 11, 2013, 6:58 pm
In this very long piece, the author, Fred Branfman, a colleague of Noam Chomsky, takes a look at the Executive branch of government, and who is really in charge. Of course we all think the the president is in charge, but is he?

"The logic behind Panetta's "give them what they want" mentality is obvious. A President might conceivably survive another 9/11 or losing in Afghanistan - but not if military sources continually leaked information to the media and Congress blaming it on his or her failure to support the military. And, for the same reason, a President is often "trapped" by the NSA, CIA or any other major Executive agency."

Earlier today, I was reading and thinking how like the old Soviet Union or China we have become when it comes to surveillance etc. We think of ourselves as free, yet witout our knowledge, we are subject to surveillance, and no warrant. This isn't just the US, but it is happening all over.

"...Presidents come and go. The Executive Branch endures, often setting the terms under which any President must operate. We understand this when looking at institutions like the Chinese or Soviet Politburos. But we fail to apply this obvious truth when looking at our own Executive Branch."

And one thing to note is the author doesn't just refer to Mr Obama, but all presidents since WWII. This isn't a Republican or Democratic issue, but a national military issue, a power issue. And to be clear, this is not a slam against soldiers and sailors who are people just like us. This is about the power base.

"The U.S. Executive Branch agencies ... have an overall budget of well over $1 trillion, employ 3-4 million people, and spend more money on the military than the next 10 nations combined. Its enormous power has allowed it to operate unilaterally since the end of WWII, with little meaningful oversight or even the knowledge of Congress and the American people.

The Executive has had one overriding purpose since it emerged from the ashes of World War II: to keep foreign governments deemed "pro-U.S." in power, and to weaken or overthrow those considered "anti-U.S." The first key feature of a "pro-U.S." government is that it permits U.S. corporations and Wall Street investors access to its natural resources and cheap labor. As former Federal Reserve Board Chair Alan Greenspan stated, "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." The second is that it allows the U.S. military and spy agencies to operate freely in its territory, including building military bases and conducting clandestine operations."

I hope you enjoy the article. There is a lot in it that should help everyone see a bit of what is going on.

The old phrase "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." certainly rings true.

Giana Peranio-paz (398)
Wednesday June 12, 2013, 2:48 am
Thanks Lynn.

P A (117)
Wednesday June 12, 2013, 10:27 am
Lynn, I wish I hadn't given you a star earlier as you deserve a basketful of stars for this one! Over the years I have observed the same phenomenon happening in the UK, as well as the horrifying number of things that have got past President Obama - like his promotion of GMOs yet being against them before he ran for the presidency and having organic food served to himself and his family. It sounds like the Executive winning again.

Then there's the article - it is jaw-dropping with its detail, here's just a short bit

"As Priest and Arkin have also revealed, the Executive Branch has created “a jaw-dropping 1,074 federal government organizations, and nearly two thousand private companies involved with programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence in at least 17,000 locations across the United States – all top secret. The biggest growth had come within the many agencies and large corporations that had existed before the attacks and had since inflated to historic proportions.” This has amounted to "a parallel top secret government whose parts had mushroomed in less than a decade into a gigantic, sprawling universe of its own, visible only to a carefully vetted cadre, and its entirety, as Pentagon intelligence chief James Clapper admitted, visible only to God." (pp. 52, 86).

"Under Mr. Obama, America is still far from being a classic police-state of course. But no President has done more to create the infrastructure for a possible future police-state. This infrastructure will clearly pose a serious danger to democratic ideals should there be more 9/11s, and/or increased domestic unrest due to economic decline and growing inequality, and/or massive global disruption due to climate change, and/or a President with even less scruples than Mr. Obama."

It used to be that governments were more careful about laws, realising that their political enemies would be likely to be in charge next time round, so actually LOOKED at laws, seeing what could be done with them if they fell into the hands of someone unscrupulous. This doesn't seem to happen any more.

Am having computer problems so I might post more later - I'm only a quarter of the way down the article - it is really well worth reading!

God help us all!


P A (117)
Wednesday June 12, 2013, 10:59 am
Here's another bit that I find particularly significant. It reminds me of the axiom that 'the opposite of love is not hatred - it is indifference'....

"But in the postwar Executive world one need not be classically evil to do evil. It is institutional evil, e.g., mass murder, conducted by normal individuals which poses the greatest threat to human life, decency, democracy and the rule of law in our time. Top Executive Branch leaders are not motivated by grand theories of “purifying the race” or “thousand year Reichs”, but rather simply succeeding in their jobs, advancing in their careers, making more money, being promoted, and gaining more power. Henry Kissinger obviously did not devastate Indochina because he cared about the wellbeing of the 6 million people he helped kill, wound or make homeless; nor did he wish to promote democracy when supporting a savage police-state in South Vietnam which held more political prisoners than the rest of the world combined. Those who know him best say he was motivated by simple careerism – a desire not to be blamed for the fall of Indochina while in office, and to be admired - and rewarded for - being seen as a “statesman” after leaving it.

"As important as it is to understand the U.S. Executive's institutional evil, lawlessness and authoritarianism, however, there is one question that must be addressed first: its claim to be protecting "national security."

"For this claim is the foundational rationale of all Executive action. American democracy has become so debased that most Americans passively accept the fact that the public servants whose salaries they pay routinely lie to them; wage losing and murderous wars that waste trillions of dollars that they need at home to make a living and support their families; send their sons and daughters off to be senselessly killed; and routinely break the domestic and international laws in which all Americans claim to believe, and upon which Executive officials base their right to rule."

Gene Jacobson (290)
Wednesday June 12, 2013, 12:12 pm
Lynn, it is still called the Military Industrial Complex. And it is more dangerous by many measures since that phrase was coined in the Eisenhower years. Freedom, real freedom, is an illusion. You really would have to live in the woods and see no one ever to have no agency anywhere tracking you. Or social media site. Which may be the same thing if NSA is dipping into Google, Facebook and other online enterprises data as well.

. (0)
Wednesday June 12, 2013, 2:13 pm
Nobody , even Reagan would believe the Presidency Obama has created.

Scott Johnson (0)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 8:57 am
One day we, the people, will wake up and realize that our freedoms are merely illusions. This government keeps taking more of the freedoms away. We no longer have rights of privacy, due process of law, protection from unlawful search and siezure, and cruel and unjust punishments. Whne do we stand up and get rid of our current set of leaders in Washingtopn. Next election maybe we can try out some new blood.

Billie C (2)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 11:53 am
maybe one day soon we the people will wake up and take our country back. i hope it happens soon or we will not be a country for long.

Farah Hage Ali (152)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 12:16 pm
noted, thank you for sharing

Jo S (619)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 12:30 pm
It is a complete blatant abuse of power!
Noted &'shared.
Thanks Lynn

Jo S (619)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 12:35 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Lynn because you have done so within the last day.
Sorry, Lynn

Donna G (42)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 12:53 pm
I wonder if making our country's politicians wear their sponsors' logos would do any good. No matter which side of the fence they are on, most politicians have corporate sponsors. Then you would have a better idea of which ones are on the side of We the People.

David Menard (43)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 1:55 pm
I was gonna say something eloquent but all I can come up with is We're so screwed.

Winn Adams (179)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 2:56 pm
Thanks for this article.

Birgit W (160)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 4:00 pm

Eternal Gardener (745)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 5:38 pm
Democracy, freedom, the "american dream", justice.... they're all illusions!

Colleen L (3)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 11:25 pm
After all that has been going on, I agree... that our freedom, democracy are just illusions. Thanks Lynn

Scott haakon (4)
Friday June 14, 2013, 6:49 pm
Not a big deal there are many problem with tie short an article. In that it tries to cover too many administrations in too short a time frame. By doing so misses a lot of history. Generally is incorrect. Right now the president has put us in a cleft stick. Another thing the US is NOT A DEMOCRACY! IT IS A REPUBLIC! Big difference!
Another point is that we are at war with radical Islam. This is a winner take all there is no place for middle ground ever. I am surprised when people talk of freedom they usually mean freedom for me and my values and to control you from your choices that they disagree with.
The first step is to have taxpayer funded elections with no outside money allowed. That is the best way to get people who are beholden to the electorate not to the big money sponsors and corporations. But too many are wasting political clout on useless things. So when it comes to the really important items everybody is exhausted.

Lynn Squance (235)
Friday June 21, 2013, 12:57 am
Thanks everybody.

David your succinctness is noted!

Melania Padilla (122)
Sunday June 23, 2013, 11:25 am

Genoveva M M (328)
Tuesday July 9, 2013, 7:42 am
Thanks dear Lynn for sharing this important information.
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