Anab (Bill) Whitehouse
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Constitutional 911: 9/11 and the Constitution
Many people have criticized both The 9/11 Commission Report and the various NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) reports concerning the collapse of three buildings at Ground Zero in New York for lacking qualities such as: thoroughness, rigor, accuracy, and integrity. What I have not seen to date – although someone, somewhere may have said something on this topic – is that the very processes through which the 9/11 Commission and NIST were permitted to produce their reports were unconstitutional.
In other words, neither the 9/11 Commission nor NIST had constitutional authority to do what they did. More specifically, Congress did not have the Constitutional authority to pass legislation to create the 9/11 Commission, and the Department of Commerce -- the parent body of NIST -- did not have constitutional authority to enable NIST to conduct its research and produce its reports in relation to 9/11.
No matter what one’s theory concerning 9/11 may be, I believe there is indisputable evidence that the events of 9/11 have been used as a pretext for eviscerating the Constitution – and, actually, some of these issues [for example, torture, extreme rendition, warrantless wiretaps, the Patriot Act, and undeclared wars) already have been explored and analyzed by a variety of people Yet, many of these same individuals who have been critical of the government in the ways noted previously seem to be of the opinion that although the 9/11 Commission and NIST had the right to do what they did, they just did it badly, and, as a result, such critics seem to have failed to understand that the 9/11 Commission and the NIST reports were part of the Constitutional evisceration process which ensued from 9/11.
Great tragedy occurred on September 11th, 2001. Obviously, the nearly 3000 lives that were lost on 9/11 -- along with the many families that, as a result, were adversely affected -- is near the top of the list.
However, the damage that has been done, and is being done, to the Constitution is enabling many more such tragedies to unfold. The patriot Act, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (where hundreds of thousands more people have died), torture, extreme rendition, crimes against humanity, warrantless wiretapping, hundreds of billions of dollars that have been wasted on war, crippling indebtedness, a failing economy – these are all the bastard children of countless incestuous affairs being illicitly conducted (that is, which are unconstitutional) within, and through, the federal government.
The following discussion outlines the underlying issues. In addition, this essay will explore a few of the ramifications that have arisen through the unconstitutional processes at issue.
The Constitutional basis for my contention concerning the 9/11 Commission and NIST are rooted in four provisions of the Constitution and after listing these roots, I will elaborate upon them in greater detail through much of the remainder of this essay. (1) Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution states that: “The United States shall guarantee every state in the union, a republican form of government.” (2) The Preamble to the Constitution stipulates that the purpose for which the Constitution has been created is: “to establish a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and out posterity.” (3) The Ninth Amendment indicates that: “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” (4) The Tenth Amendment stipulates that: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
(1) The promise of republican government in Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution has nothing to do with the Republican Party. In fact, although I am not a Democrat, nor do I belong to any other political party, nonetheless, one might easily argue – and quite plausibly I believe (and this will be elaborated upon shortly) – that the current Republican Party is the complete antithesis of the actual meaning of “republicanism” being referred to in the Constitution … although to be fair about the matter, one quite justifiably could say the same thing of the existing Democratic Party – namely, that when its candidates are elected they usually do not properly observe the fiduciary responsibilities that are entailed by a republican form of government.
The idea of guaranteeing every state in the union, a republican form of government could be read in, at least, two ways. (a) The federal government is guaranteeing that every state will have a republican form of government, and, (b) the federal government is guaranteeing that the federal government will provide a republican form of government in its relations with the various states.
Interpretation (a) is both oppressively tyrannical and runs contrary to the whole revolutionary and constitutional history of America. Therefore, the guarantee of republican government being issued through Article IV, Section 4 is about the quality of government that the central government will offer to each of the states of the union.
Unfortunately, the sad fact of the matter is that almost every administration in the federal government that has taken office since the inception of the United States of America has failed to realize the Constitutional requirements of Article 4, Section 4 – which is not a promise, but a guarantee -- concerning the matter of a republican form of government. Consequently, almost from the very beginning of this country as a constitutionally constructed entity, virtually every federally elected government has conducted its administration in an unconstitutional manner.
When the Constitutional Convention was in progress in Philadelphia, much of the discussion was done through a spirit of republicanism. Indeed, republicanism was part of the ideology of the Enlightenment that influenced the Framers of the Constitution, and, as such, republicanism was: a way of life; a way of thinking; a way of behaving.
Moreover, the theme of republicanism was so close to the hearts of the Framers of the Constitution they held that no one should govern others unless such leaders were completely governed by republican principles. This was so much the case that it was enshrined in the Constitution in Article IV, Section 4, and was probably one of the primary reasons why individuals such as Madison and Monroe initially felt there was no need to create a separate Bill of Rights since the guarantee of republican government contained in the Constitution should – they believed – satisfactorily accommodate such concerns.
So, what is republicanism? It encompasses a set of core values such as: being benevolent; having integrity; demonstrating character; showing judiciousness; displaying egalitarianism; possessing and giving expression to qualities of virtue; being truly disinterested in personal gain or profit while serving others; having the capacity to be impartial arbiters in all matters and, therefore, never serving as a judge in one’s own cause; showing tolerance and modesty in all matters; exhibiting unfailing honesty; manifesting honor and reasonableness in every affair; being willing to sacrifice oneself for the good of others; being unbiased and independent when evaluating and judging any situation; having high-mindedness guide one’s thoughts and actions in relation to the public good.
In an ideal republican world, a person in government would not receive a salary or profit for one’s labors on behalf of the public. This is one of the reasons why many of the individuals who stayed for the entire Constitutional Convention struggled financially throughout the process, and it is also one of the reasons why others who had assembled for the Constitutional Convention had to leave before the process had been completed – namely, they could no longer afford to survive in Philadelphia and be away from their means of generating income.
Given the foregoing set of republican values, one could understand how people like Monroe and Madison believed that a Bill of Rights was unnecessary. After all, if government officials lived in accordance with the requirements of republican values then all of the protections of human rights that are given a voice through the Bill of Rights could be satisfied by individuals who operated through republican values … or, so, the theory went.
Fortunately, there were many other individuals in the Colonies who, although they admired and sought to abide by the values inherent in the republican spirit, they, nevertheless, had a less sanguine – or, perhaps, more realistic -- view of human potential. They realized that not all individuals who achieved elected or appointed office in the Federal Government could necessarily be counted on to abide by the requirements of a republican philosophy.
Consequently, these more far-sighted members of the fraternity of Framers had the guarantee of republican government written into the Constitution. In addition, they insisted that unless there was a separate Bill of Rights that would be added to the main body of the Constitution very soon after the ratification process had been completed, then there would be no ratification of the Constitution as written … the issue was, in a sense, a deal-breaker.
The republican spirit prevailed. A gentleman’s agreement on the Constitution had been brokered, and soon after the Constitution was ratified, a process for developing a Bill of Rights was instituted, and the results of that process were subsequently ratified in 1791.
Article VI of the Constitution states:
“This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution.”
Among other things, the foregoing excerpt from the Constitution – the beginning portion of which is referred to as ‘the Supremacy Clause’ – indicates that all laws must be in compliance with the Constitution. This means, among other things, that all laws must be in compliance with the guarantee of republican government.
In short, one of the primary filters through which everything in the Constitution must be understood is encompassed by the “guarantee of republican government”. If one wishes to talk about the intent of the Framers, then everything that they did, said and wrote was a function of republican values and principles because that is the philosophy and understanding which essentially shaped their perspective concerning government and social affairs.
Anything that does not satisfy the guarantee of republican government is unconstitutional. Furthermore, all Senators, Representatives, members of the state legislatures, as well as all executive and judicial officers are bound by the requirements of the guarantee of republican government to acknowledge as much.
Unfortunately, for most of the history of the United States the aforementioned guarantee has not only been unacknowledged, but, as well, it has not been properly enforced with respect to the actions of any of the branches of federal government. Consequently, many of the Congressional laws, executive orders, and judicial decisions that have been generated over the years are unconstitutional for when those laws, executive orders and judicial decisions are critically and rigorously examined, they usually are not capable of passing the litmus test entailed by the guarantee of republican government.
Furthermore, this means that many of the decisions and practices of: Congress, the Executive Office, and the Judiciary that are cited as precedent to support or rationalize their judgments actually often constitute invalid forms of reasoning. This is so because such precedents are frequently the result of processes that could not satisfy the guarantee of republican government which is stipulated in Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution and which all governmental officials are required by Constitutional authority to support through affirmation or oath … as is said in another context, such precedents are the fruit of a poisonous tree (the failure to satisfy the conditions of republican government) and, as such, are, therefore, Constitutionally unacceptable.
To name just a few of the fruits of such a poisonous tree, one might mention: The Federal Reserve Act of 1913. The entire Act was put together in a secret meeting on Jekyll Island, off the coast of Georgia, by a group of seven individuals (Charles, Norton, Paul Warburg, Nelson Aldrich, Benjamin Strong, Abraham Andrew, Henry Davidson, and Frank Vanderlip) who represented a variety of private banking and financial interests and, then the Act was guided through Congress by people (such as Nelson Aldrich, who was the Republican Whip for the Senate) and who knew that the proposed Federal Reserve would not be a Federal institution but a corporation that served the interests of a consortium of private member banks rather than the interests of the vast majority of the people of the United States and which, for the most part, would be beyond the control of the Federal or State governments.
The foregoing was a clear violation of the guarantee of republican government. This is so not only in relation to the influence which special interests had in constructing the legislation concerning the Federal Reserve (and, there are many, many cases in which private lobbyists and special interest groups write the legislation which is voted on – often unknowingly -- by members of Congress), but the failure to observe the requirements of republican governance also reflects how many people in Congress failed to exercise reasonableness, integrity, honor, impartiality, honesty, judiciousness, impartiality, and benevolence (to anyone but the bankers) during the process of passing the Federal Reserve Act.
In fact, much of the legislation that deregulated the financial industry – e.g., the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 – and which laid the groundwork for the creation of intentionally complex and mystifying financial instruments, such as derivatives, is unconstitutional. This is because the manner through which many, if not most, of the deregulatory laws came into existence violated the peoples’ right to republican governance … that is, many individuals who were involved with the passage of such legislation were not people with: honor, integrity, honesty, judiciousness, benevolence, impartiality, egalitarianism, independence, and high-mindedness that was free of all self-interest and private passions concerning such legislation.
Another example of the fruit of the poisonous tree concerns corporations. In today’s world, corporations possess great power, have most of the rights and protections of actual human beings, and, yet rather ironically, often don’t have any of the responsibilities of biological persons.
This current state of affairs has turned the understanding and concerns of colonists and the Framers of the Constitution upside down. In colonial days, corporations were, for the most part, loathed by the colonists – except, of course, for those individuals who stood to gain money and power through their cohabitation with one of the predominant corporations of colonial days – namely, the East India Company.
The Boston Tea Party was an act of rebellion not only against King George, but it was also a statement of protest against the East India Company that had been given an unfair advantage in commerce by being largely exempt from the taxes that were being levied on colonial tea entrepreneurs through the Tea Act of 1773. The East India Company, which had English government office holders and royalty among its stockholders, used the leverage provided to it through the Tea Act to drive smaller tea suppliers out of business by undercutting the prices charged by the latter who had to pay a tax from which the East India Company was largely immune.
The Framers of the Constitution had no intention of, either explicitly or implicitly, delegating rights and powers to corporations. Corporations are not mentioned in the main body of the Constitution nor in any of the amendments for a very good reason – corporations were considered to be malevolent forces intent on denying people the right to have control over their own lives.
However, despite the provisions of the Constitution, corporations have continued to seek ways to undermine democracy and usurp the powers of: the people, states, and the federal government. They have sought to accomplish this through a variety of venues, many of which involved the corporations who owned railroads.
For instance, consider the 1886 Supreme Court decision involving Santa Clara County versus Santa Fe Railroad. Over the years since that decision, corporations have tried to use what they have incorrectly portrayed as the substantive character of that decision as a precedent for treating corporations as persons. However, the attempt of corporations to push for such recognition violates the essential spirit of what is meant by republican governance in several ways.
First, the Santa Clara County decision did not acknowledge or stipulate that corporations were persons. Instead, the impression that such a precedent had been established was created by a court reporter – J.C. Bancroft Davis, a former executive for the railroads, and who, while employed as a court reported for the Supreme Court, earned money on the side by publishing Supreme Court decision with annotated introductions of his own thoughts. It was those annotated comments of the court reporter – not the actual legal decision -- which made the claim that the aforementioned decision had stipulated that corporations were persons under the law.
Secondly, the idea that corporations were persons under the law and, therefore, were entitled to the same rights or powers as biological persons would have been rejected by the vast majority of colonists, as well as by the Framers of the Constitution. To try to argue otherwise would require one to rewrite America’s revolutionary history, and, as a result, one has no problem in ascertaining the Framers’ intent in relation to corporations like The East India Company – such corporations were predatory capitalists and to whatever extent they were permitted to exist, they should not be given any powers or rights that could not be completely controlled or revoked by the people.
Since then, corporations have used money, economic power and collusion with their corporate partners, the banks, to corrupt the political process in America and everywhere else in the world. Consequently, all of the powers and rights that corporations have acquired through the process of government have been gained by ensuring that the guarantee of republican government is ignored and corrupted.
In fact, one can take the issue further. Any attempt to consider corporations as anything other than legal fictions with respect to the very circumscribed category of artificial persons in order to provide civil liability protection with respect to monetary debt or damages in relation to investors of such artificial entities cannot pass the litmus test concerning the Constitutional guarantee of republican government. Moreover, all attempts to claim 14th Amendment protection for corporations are also unconstitutional because the 14th Amendment clearly stipulates that its provisions are specifically for: “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” and corporations are neither born nor naturalized.
Indeed, corporations are not citizens at all – born or naturalized. Thus, when one reads a bit further down in the 14th Amendment that: “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States”, this does not prevent laws being made that do abridge any privileges or immunities which corporations may believe themselves to have – and this is so, because corporations are not citizens.
Finally, the last part of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment states that no state may: “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” A corporation is not a person in the sense of a being who has come into this world through biological birth and is a citizen of the United States by either birth or a process of naturalization, and, therefore, corporations are not entitled to equal protection under the law.
The entire history of corporations seeking to be legally identified as actual persons or being recognized by certain jurists as actual persons is predicated on a failure to comply with the requirements of the guarantee of republican government. This is so because all such efforts have been rooted in desires and qualities that are the antithesis of the sort of republican values and principles which are alluded to in Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution – in other words those efforts have not exhibited properties of: benevolence, disinterest in personal gain, being unbiased, honesty, virtuousness, having integrity, and not possessing self-interest or private passions.
One could extend the foregoing sort of reasoning to a wide variety of other issues. For instance, passage of the Patriot Act -- along with so many other Congressional Acts – is unconstitutional because most of the members of Congress did not read the Act before passing it. This is a violation of the guarantee of republican government.
One could add other examples of violations of the Constitutional guarantee of republican government. Conflicts involving Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Nicaragua, Iraq (twice), and Afghanistan were -- and are -- unconstitutional … irrespective of what Congress, the Executive Office, or the Judiciary claims. All those conflicts involved demonstrable: deceit, dishonesty, injudiciousness, unreasonableness, bias, and, as well, all those conflicts lacked: character, honorableness, integrity, benevolence, and impartiality. Consequently, all of those conflicts have failed to comply with the Constitutional guarantee of republican government that the federal government owes to the states.
The requirement of republican government is the lens through which all issues of national security and interests must be assessed. No war can be declared and no conflict can be fought unless one can demonstrate that the war and the conflict comply with republican principles and values.
Moreover, if, either after the fact or before the fact, a given war or conflict can be shown to be based, or to have been based, on lies (as say, Vietnam, Iraq – twice -- and Afghanistan have been so exposed), then the perpetrators of such essential breeches of the Constitution need to be impeached, if still in office, convicted, and then, whether, or not they hold elective or appointive office, held accountable for having committed: war crimes, crimes against humanity, and treason in relation to the very principles and purposes for which America came into being.
Or, consider the following. All government treaties and policies involving Native Peoples have been unconstitutional because they all violated, in one way or another, the Constitutional guarantee of republican government to the states and their people.
Nothing that the federal government has done in relation to Native peoples can be characterized as being: honorable, reasonable, impartial, unbiased, honest, tolerant, virtuous, benevolent, or disinterested. Throughout its history, the Federal Government has consistently and continuously violated Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution by failing to provide citizens of the various states with republican governance in relation to a proper treatment of Native Peoples – some of whom provided ideas that helped shape and orient the thinking of the Framers of the Constitution.
Every rider that is added to a Congressional Bill – riders which seek some sort of special entitlement for a given state, district, region, or group as an implicit price for passing the bill in question -- is a violation of Article IV, Section of the Constitution. The very existence of such riders is demonstrated proof that the Bill to which they are attached lacks: integrity, independence, impartiality, honor, character, honesty, judiciousness, and virtuousness.
This may be how Congress operates. However, to the extent that this is the way Congress operates, then all such activities are unconstitutional since they are a violation of the guarantee of republican governance that is owed to the citizens of all the states in America.
Furthermore, many of the laws encompassing: elections, the unfair advantage which the Republican and Democratic Parties have in most jurisdictions, the way in which votes are recorded in many places (e.g., the newer electronic devices that leave no paper trail to verify the integrity of the process), campaign financing, and the use of public airwaves in relation to candidate debates and coverage are in violation of the Constitutional guarantee of republican government for all citizens of the respective states. This means that the elections arising out of such processes are also unconstitutional, for the latter are functionally related to the former activities – activities which lack often lack: integrity, honor, equitability, judiciousness, impartiality, egalitarianism, virtuousness, and character.
How the legislation is worded, or what might be said by various jurists in their decisions concerning this, or that, precedent in any of the foregoing matters, is often irrelevant This is so because the process through which the legislation has been generated or the judicial decisions that are reached concerning such legislation give expression to numerous violations of the guarantee of republican governance.
Thus, even if one wanted to argue that Congress had constitutional authority to pass a law through which the 9/11 Commission was created (which I do not believe they had and will argue as much shortly), and even if one wished to maintain (which I do not believe can be done in a plausible way … again, more on this shortly) that the Department of Commerce had constitutional authority to direct NIST to undertake a series of reports concerning the collapse of the three buildings at the World Trade Center (although one might wonder why their alleged mandate did not include the Pentagon as well), there is a wealth of evidence to indicate that neither Congress, nor the 9/11 Commission, nor NIST, nor the Pentagon conducted themselves in accordance with the specifications of Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution which stipulates that the Federal Government is under Constitutional obligation to guarantee republican government for all of the states and their respective peoples in such matters. Indeed, a litany of questions and charges (that I won’t reiterate here and may easily be found in a variety of references) have been raised concerning the: honesty, integrity, independence, judiciousness, character, virtuousness, impartiality, reasonableness, and disinterestedness of: Congress, the 9/11 Commission, NIST, and the Pentagon in relation to their respective investigations into 9/11.
In other words, neither Congress, nor the 9/11 Commission, nor NIST, nor the Pentagon, nor the Office of the President, nor the judiciary have met the litmus test of republican government in relation to 9/11. This is not a matter of officials making promises and, then, not living up to them, but, instead, this is a matter of all branches of the Federal Government having failed to meet the conditions of Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution which guarantees a republican form of government in all matters.
Guarantees are not about giving a good faith effort – and, even this is questionable concerning the way the Federal Government handled the events prior to, on, and following 9/11. Guarantees are about the absolute fiduciary responsibility of all branches of government to ensure that republican values are instituted in everything that is done by any of those branches of government.
There is only one place in the Constitution in which any guarantees are given. This concerns the manner in which all activity – no matter which branch -- of the Federal Government must be conform to the principles, values, and spirit of republican governance.
There are no exceptions to Article IV, Section 4. This is the very heart of the Constitution, and if that provision is disregarded, then, all ensuing governance will be corrupted and become corrupt due to the absence of republican principles and values.
All one has to do is look at the current situation in the United States politically, economically, socially, educationally, financially, militarily, judicially, and internationally and one can see the effects that have ensued as a result of the United States persistent and pervasive disregard in relation to the central importance of republican government to a constitutionally viable democracy. The Framers of the Constitution understood this issue, but most of us have written off the guarantee of republican government as a quaint artifact of ancient history, and, as a result, we are suffering the consequences.
The 9/11 Commission Report, the various NIST reports, as well as The Pentagon Performance Report were all conceived in, and dedicated to, the proposition that they did not have to comply with the requirements of Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution. This was a continuation of the acts and policies that the federal government had begun perpetrating before, during, and after the events of 9/11.
As a result, we have been graced with such things as: torture, extreme rendition, militarism, imperialism, enemy combatants, military tribunals, destruction of foreign countries, financial meltdowns, economic exploitation, loss of civil liberties, corporate malevolence, increasingly unmanageable debt; a failing infrastructure, Congressional gridlock, and the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives (including some that were our own). Irrespective of how one may feel about what may, or may not, have occurred on 9/11, the fact of the matter is that the Constitution has been eviscerated by a succession of federal administrations who have failed to keep faith with the Framers’ guarantee of republican government for the citizens of all the states in America.
(2), (3) and (4).
All of the Framers of the Constitution, along with most of the colonists, believed that rights were extra-governmental. In other words, rights were inherent in their status as human beings and were not derived from, or gifts bestowed by, government.
The foregoing belief is given unmistakable expression in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. Indeed, the idea of democratic government presupposed the existence of human beings who had the sort of naturally endowed rights that would enable them to come together and fashion a form of governance that would protect those rights within a framework that would help advance the common welfare along with all of the other principles mentioned in the Preamble to the Constitution.
Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution stipulates that” “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in the Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representative.” The legislative powers that are alluded to in Article I, Section 1 are specified in Section 8 of the same Article.
More specifically, in Section 8 of Article I of the Constitution one finds the following enumerated powers to which Congress is entitled. These powers include the ability to: (a) collect and lay taxes; (b) borrow money; (c) regulate commerce; (d) establish conditions for naturalization and bankruptcy; (e) coin and regulate the value of money; (f) provide for the punishment of counterfeiting; (g) establish post offices; (h) promote science and useful arts through copyright protections; (i) constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court; (j) define and punish crimes committed on the high seas; (k) declare war; (l) raise and support armies; (m) provide and maintain an army; (n) make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces; (o) provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions; (p) provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia; ; (q) exercise exclusive legislation in relation to the District of Columbia and all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the various states for erection of forts; magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings; and (r) make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for the carrying into execution the foregoing powers by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.
The foregoing powers are not absolute. They are constrained by: the Preamble to the Constitution and the guarantee of republican government.
In other words, powers cannot be executed in just any way Congress wishes. Those powers must be exercised in accordance with republican principles – which are guaranteed – and must be done to further the purposes set forth in the Preamble to the Constitution … namely, “to form a more perfect union; establish justice; insure domestic tranquility; provide for the common defense; promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
Furthermore, the Preamble is not a piece of rhetorical fluff. Without it, the Constitution has no direction or purpose.
Just as the guarantee of republican government gives expression to how government is to conduct itself, so too, the Preamble touches on why pursuing a union of people through government is important and what government is supposed to accomplish.
Unfortunately, there is a great deal which goes on in the three branches of the Federal Government that does not serve the purposes for which the Constitution was created. If one took almost any piece of legislation, executive order, or judicial decision and asked for a rigorous defense be given as to how such legislation, orders, or decisions advanced the causes of the Preamble to the Constitution, much of the former could be shown to be: arbitrary; problematic; inconsistent; unnecessary; ill-conceived; biased; ineffective; and injurious to justice, domestic tranquility, the common defense; the general welfare, and securing liberty for ourselves and posterity.
To the extent that the foregoing claim is true, then all legislation, executive orders, and judicial decisions that cannot be shown to be able to rigorously and demonstrably further the purposes of the Preamble really are unconstitutional. If one’s legislation, orders and decisions cannot be shown to serve the purposes for which the Constitution was created, then, such legislation, orders and decisions are really antithetical to why the Constitution was originally created.
For instance, one might ask: How did the Congressional law that formed the 9/11 Commission advance the purposes inherent in the Preamble to the Constitution?
Did the 9/11 Commission help “form a more perfect union”? No, it didn’t. The Commission and its executive director were riddled with conflicts of interest, and such conflicts of interest are an anathema to the idea of forming a more perfect union. Furthermore, The 9/11 Commission Report is also riddled with errors of many different kinds encompassing problems of both omission and commission, and, once again, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to understand how error is ever going to lead to the formation of a more perfect union.
Did the 9/11 Commission establish justice? No, it didn’t because the Commissioners, researchers, and executive director went out of their ways not to establish justice except through statements, arguments, and inferences that were lacking evidential credibility and intent on promoting a conspiracy theory favored by the government. In fact, a terrible injustice was perpetrated on the 9/11 families, the American people, and the rest of the world through the 9/11 Commission and its report.
Did the Commission insure domestic tranquility? No, it didn’t, and in fact it had exactly the opposite effect since a number of polls now indicate that well over a hundred and twenty million people (including a number of 9/11 families, as well as an array of professional pilots, architects, engineers, ex-military and intelligence offices, and scientists) in the United States now believe that the 9/11 Commission did not do a credible job in relation to its investigation of 9/11.
Did the Commission provide for the common defense? No, it didn’t since it actually undermined the possibility of such a common defense through its many errors of commission (e.g., the Commission intentionally left out the testimony of scores of people who had evidence that ran contrary to the government’s conspiracy theory) and, as a result, made certain that many truths about 9/11 would never see the light of day – and, you cannot provide for the common defense by hiding the truth.
Did the Commission promote the general welfare? No, it didn’t because the Commission was a body that was engaged in something other than a thorough and rigorous search for the truth -- which is the only thing that could have promoted the general welfare under the circumstances. Instead, America, 9/11 families, and the rest of the world have been fed a steady diet of misinformation, disinformation, and an invented mythology by The 9/11 Commission Report.
Did the Commission secure the blessings of liberty for either: ourselves or our posterity? No, it didn’t but, instead, the Commission placed our liberties at risk through promoting and propagandizing a conspiracy theory that the government had advanced, without credible evidence, within days following the events of 9/11 – a conspiracy theory which The 9/11the Commission Report could not defensibly or plausibly maintain and, yet, a conspiracy theory that has been used by all too many people who should have known better to help rationalize and justify the dismantling of civil liberties in America, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Since the 9/11 Commission, its researchers, its executive director, and its report were not advancing the principles of the Preamble to the Constitution, then they must have been advancing some other agenda. In other words, whatever was going on with the 9/11 Commission was unconstitutional.
In addition to the constraints imposed on Congressional legislative power by the Preamble to the Constitution and the guarantee of republican government, there are several amendments to the Constitution that are intended to remind everyone – government and citizens alike – that Congress is not entitled to extend its activities beyond the limits that are specified in the Constitution – almost all of which are contained in Section 8 of Article I and which have been outlined earlier. These two amendments are the ninth and tenth amendments.
Colonists, in general, as well as many of the people who were most active in the constitutional and ratification processes, in particular, were concerned that the federal government might try to extend its authority beyond the enumerated powers of Article I, Section 1 in the proposed Constitution. Therefore, they insisted that the Constitution be amended to reflect such a concern -- namely: “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people,” and this is known as the Ninth Amendment.
This meant that the powers and rights of Congress were fixed and limited by the Constitution. Moreover, whatever those powers were, they could not be extended in such a way as to deny or disparage the rights and powers that people retained beyond the enumerated powers and rights of Congress.
The protections of the Ninth Amendment were further strengthened through the Tenth Amendment. This amendment states that: “The powers not delegated to the United States, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states, or to the people.”
The Tenth Amendment accomplished two things. First, it reiterated an important principle, initially introduced through the Ninth Amendment – namely, citizens or the people have constitutional standing quite independently of the federal government or state governments.
If this were not the case, then the Ninth Amendment would have talked about how the enumeration of rights or powers belonging to the federal government should not be understood to either deny or disparage other rights and powers retained by the states. However, the Ninth Amendment did not mention state rights or powers. The amendment only referred to the rights and powers of the people.
Moreover, the Tenth Amendment affirms that the constitutional standing of people or citizens is independent of the federal governments when it adds the phrase: “or to the people.” If the Framers of the Constitution had wanted to reserve all powers for the states which have not been delegated to the federal government or which have not been prohibited to the state governments, then the Tenth Amendment would have ended with the words: “are reserved for the states,” but this is not what the Tenth Amendment says.
When the issues underlying the Tenth Amendment were being discussed, Roger Sherman from Connecticut suggested that the phrase “or to the people” be added to the wording of the amendment. This suggestion was accepted without objection or debate.
One cannot read the Tenth Amendment as if the phrase: “or to the people,” is just a literary device which offers another way of referring to state governments. Constitutionally speaking, state governments are one thing, and the people are quite another.
There was much suspicion among colonists concerning any kind of government, and this was a direct result of their collective experiences either in Europe and/or through the tyrannical manner in which the British (and their colonialist agents) sought to control things in America. This meant that not only was the idea of a central, federal government to be approached with caution and with respect to which citizens should have protections and relief, but the aforementioned suspicions concerning governance extended to both state and local governments as well.
The Bill of Rights is almost entirely dedicated to protections of people and not of states. The Tenth Amendment does offer protection to states, but, simultaneously, that amendment also extends protection to the people by clearly indicating that: people were to have constitutional standing along side of states and that citizens had a choice as to whether they wished those powers that were not delegated to the federal government or prohibited to the states to fall within the purview of the people or the purview of state governments which, theoretically, represented citizens.
The people insisted on a Bill of Rights because they did not trust government – any government. The people insisted on the Ninth and Tenth Amendments because those amendments gave the people a constitutional standing which neither the federal government nor the state governments should deny or disparage.
Unfortunately, states historically have continuously sought to usurp the rights and powers of people that were granted to people under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. States, in this respect, have tried to do to the people what the federal government has attempted to do in relation to the states and the people – that is, to extend the sphere power, influence, and control of the central government.
For example, let’s return to the list of enumerated powers that are listed in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution and which have been stated earlier. Nowhere in that list of powers is there anything indicating that Congress has the right and power to create legislation concerning a 9/11-kind of investigation.
The closest that the enumerated list comes to such a possibility is in relation to the power of tribunals. The primary root meaning of the idea of a tribunal is in the form of a court or forum of justice.
In fact, Article I, Section 8 indicates that the power at issue involves the capacity “to constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court.” This infuses the notion of tribunal with a thoroughly judicial flavor.
The 9/11 Commission did possess the power of subpoenas, and this is similar to what happens in relation to tribunals. Moreover, most witnesses had to swear an oath under possible penalty of perjury, and, again, this is somewhat similar to what occurs within tribunals.
Nonetheless, despite the foregoing surface similarities between the investigation of the 9/11 Commission and the idea of tribunal, the 9/11 Commission does not really satisfy most of the criteria that might justify calling such a process a tribunal. For instance: (1) the Commission was not constituted with a judicial purpose in mind but, from the beginning, was treated as an investigation; (2) there was no special prosecutor appointed; (3) there were no defendants; (4) there was no attempt to observe the laws of evidence or follow normal court procedure; (5) the entire process of research was kept hidden and was not subject to rules of disclosure or cross-examination; (6) there were witnesses (e.g. George W. Bush and Richard Cheney) who did not have to swear an oath before giving testimony; (7) no judge or judges were assigned to the investigation; (8) although there were witnesses who gave false testimony, no one was held accountable; (9) although the power of subpoena was available to the Commission, it was almost never used, and as a result, even if justice were the point of the exercise – which it wasn’t – justice could never had been served by Commissioners who were, for whatever reason, unwilling to exercise the subpoena power in anything but a perfunctory and very limited manner; (10) there were no sanctions associated with the findings of the commission; (11) the findings of the 9/11 Commission were not subject to review by the Supreme Court which is clearly a requirement entailed by the Congressional power to be able to constitute tribunals that are “inferior to the Supreme Court”.
One cannot try to claim that something is a tribunal when it ignores, or tramples upon, most of what a tribunal requires. Furthermore, even if one were to concede the idea that 9/11 Commission was a tribunal (which the foregoing points indicate is not the case), then, at the very best, such an individual is faced with the prospect that the 9/11 Commission was unconstitutional in the manner in which it violated the principles inherent in the Preamble to the Constitution, as well as unconstitutional in the way in which it violated the guarantee of republican government set forth in Article IV, Section of the Constitution.
The fact of the matter is, the 9/11 Commission was not a tribunal in: intent; name, form, principle, process, or results. Therefore, in passing legislation that created the 9/11 Commission, Congress exceeded its constitutional authority.
None of the powers that are enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution entitle Congress to form a 9/11-style investigation. Congress could have created a tribunal that would have been required to pursue the issues surrounding 9/11 in a very different way than the 9/11 Commission did, but Congress didn’t do this, and, therefore, the 9/11 Commission as constituted and realized was in violation of the Constitution.
According to the 9th Amendment, “the enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”, and, yet, this is exactly what Congress did through the formation of the 9/11 Commission – deny and disparage rights that are retained by the people. According to the 10th Amendment, “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people,” and, yet, by passing legislation for the 9/11 Commission, Congress transgressed into areas which are clearly the preserve of, and reserved for, the states or the people.
By passing legislature to form the 9/11 Commission, Congress not only violated the 9th and 10th Amendment rights of the people as pointed out in the foregoing comments, but, as well, Congress violated the 5th Amendment rights of people. Among other things, the 5th Amendment introduces the idea of a “grand jury”.
Normally speaking, grand juries are formed when a district attorney or attorney general wants to prosecute someone whom he or she believes has committed a crime. During the grand jury proceeding, the prosecutor puts forth an array of evidence that she or he believes strongly indicates that a given individual has committed a certain crime.
The members of the grand jury are free to ask whatever questions they like concerning such evidence. They also are free to ask for additional evidence and witnesses to be presented.
Once all the witnesses and evidence have been presented, the prosecutor leaves the room where the grand jury has been convened. The jurors then discuss and explore the issues among themselves as to whether, on not, they believe sufficient evidence has been presented to underwrite an indictment of the accused individual.
The understanding of many people – including that of some lawyers and prosecutors – concerning the idea of a grand jury tends to end at this point. In other words, once the grand jury reaches a decision concerning whether, or not, to indict someone, then supposedly the work of the grand jury is complete.
However, a grand jury does not serve the state or its legal officials. The grand jury serves the people, and the reason that the idea of a grand jury has been enshrined in the 5th Amendment is to preserve the civil liberties of citizens.
Consequently, on the one hand, grand juries are the last outpost of protection for citizens against arbitrary and unwarranted prosecution by the government. However, on the other hand, grand juries also are a constitutionally authorized forum to ensure that the government is not undermining the civil liberties of citizens in ways that may extend beyond the interests of any given district attorney, attorney general, or other legal representative of the government.
Once the immediate reasons for which some level of government has convened a grand jury have been served, a grand jury is free to pursue any other issue that is of interest to the members of that jury which carry implications for the civil liberties and rights of citizens. Many district attorneys and attorney generals who actually know about this dimension of the power of grand juries are often not inclined to share such knowledge with the members of a grand jury and, thereby, help those members understand the full potential of their power under the Constitution.
The powers of grand juries are entailed by the guarantee of a republican form of government for the states. The powers of grand juries are entailed by the rights inherent in the 9th and 10th Amendments – rights that belong to the people and not to the central government. The powers of grand juries are entailed by the principles given expression through the Preamble to the Constitution. The powers of grand juries are entailed by the priority that people have over governments through the natural, inborn rights of human beings and from which governments derive whatever authority they have.
By passing legislation that created the 9/11 Commission, Congress usurped the rights and powers of grand juries to make determinations and judgments in such matters. By passing legislation concerning 9/11, Congress attempted -- in contravention of the amended Constitution -- to deny and disparage the rights and powers of the people … rights and powers that could be exercised through venues like, but not restricted to, a grand jury.
Furthermore, by participating in a commission which was without constitutional authority, each of the Commissioners, as well as the executive director of the Commission, and all of the Commission researchers did also effectively deprive the American people of the latter’s 5th, 9th, and 10th Amendment rights. I do not call what the various participants did a conspiracy, but, rather, each person acted individually and, probably without any real understanding of the nature of their unconstitutional behavior. However, whether done unknowingly or knowingly, all those individuals were, nonetheless, still denying and depriving American citizens of their Constitutionally established rights by working with and on the 9/11 Commission.
Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution indicates that the President shall: “appoint ambassadors, other public ministers, and counsels, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law.” In conjunction with the 9/11 Commission, the President did appoint, first, Henry Kissinger, and, then, Thomas Kean to serve as Chairman of the 9/11 Commission.
However, the 9/11 Commission was created through Congressional legislation. It was not a Presidential body.
Thomas Kean was assigned to the Commission as the President’s representative on a legislatively created body. As such, Thomas Kean had no special authority apart from what Congress had enabled (unconstitutionally) the Commission to have in the first place.
By appointing the chairman for the 9/11 Commission, the President violated the 5th, 9th, and 10th Amendment rights of the people because he was co-operating with a body – namely, the Congress – which had exceeded its Constitutional authority in relation to the powers that it had, and had not, been granted. Consequently, in the process, the President also exceeded his authority even though under other circumstances the President does have the Constitutional authority, as noted earlier, to appoint various individuals as ambassadors, Supreme Court judges, counsels, or officers of the United States.
In addition to Congress and the President, there is another facet of government that also violated the 5th, 9th, and 10th Amendment rights of the people. The facet of government to which allusion is being directed here concerns the Department of Commerce which authorized NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) to conduct an investigation into the building collapses at the World Trade Center.
NIST came into being in 1901 and is under the auspices of the Department of Commerce. It is a non-regulatory agency whose stated mission is: “to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve the quality of life.”
Whatever technical facility NIST may have, neither the Department of Commerce nor NIST had Constitutional authority to investigate the World Trade Center building collapses. The investigation of those collapses was not about, on the one hand, regulating commerce, nor, on the other hand, was such an investigation a matter of promoting innovation and industrial competitiveness, or advancing: measurement science, standards, and/or technology.
Even if one were to concede that the Department of Commerce and, therefore, NIST had Constitutional authority to conduct the investigation it did with respect to the World Trade Center (which I do not concede and which they cannot justify under the Constitution), overwhelming evidence exists through the work of people such as: Richard Gage, Steven Jones, Judy Wood, Kevin Ryan, and many, many others that NIST did not conduct itself in accordance with its Constitutionally mandated obligation to go about its activities in compliance with republican principles of: honesty; integrity; honor; impartiality; judiciousness; character; independence; or reasonableness.
Moreover, it seems rather odd that NIST was given authority to investigate the collapse of the World Trade buildings, rather than, say, the National Transportation Safety Board or the FBI. Of course, in many ways, neither the NTSB nor the FBI is really equipped with the resources and expertise to examine the collapse of three buildings at the World Trade Center except in very restricted ways.
Unfortunately, almost from the very beginning, the FBI failed to treat the World Trade Center as a crime scene. The FBI permitted evidence to be taken away without consideration for the possibility that its theory concerning the nature of events on 9/11 might be incorrect or incomplete, and, consequently, as an agency of the central government, the FBI violated the Constitutional guarantee of a republican form of government for the states – a possibility which assumes more ironic proportions given that the FBI has, since, publically stated they have absolutely no credible evidence capable of tying ‘Usama bin Laden to the events of 9/11.
One might also add that the FBI has acted unconstitutionally in the manner in which it has handled potential evidence about 9/11 involving, among others, Sibel Edmonds, Indira Singh, Robert Wright, and David Schippers. In the first three cases, the FBI has put a gag order on the people in question and, as a result, has prevented those individuals from sharing what they know with the American people.
The provisions of Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution are quite clear. The federal government – including all of its agencies – are under an absolute guarantee to provide a republican form of government to the states of the union, and, yet, based on what has been said by Edmonds, Singh, Wright, and Schippers, the FBI has not acted with: impartiality; honesty; honor; integrity; judiciousness; character; or reasonableness in relation to 9/11.
The cry of ‘National Security’ does not trump a constitutional guarantee of republican government. This is especially so when there is prima facie evidence provided by, at least, four individuals, acting independently of one another, that the FBI has not conducted itself in accordance with the Constitutional requirement of republican government with respect to the events of 9/11.
In addition, the mantra of “National Security” also does not justify the use of torture water-boarding, extreme rendition, the invention of categories such as “unlawful enemy combatant”, or maintaining captives without due process. The military and all intelligence agencies are under the auspices of the federal government, and, therefore, they are subject to the requirements of Article IV, Section 4 concerning the guarantee of republican government to all states – and this remains true whether, or not, the country is at war or engaged in some military conflict.
If the federal government in any of its manifestations does not comply with the Constitutional guarantee of republican government, then national security has been violated because there is nothing more vital to the national security of America than the requirements of republican government. There is nothing more important or essential to Constitutional stability and viability than the requirement that all federal employees (whether members of Congress, members of the military, members of the so-called intelligence community, members of the judiciary, or members of any department or office within the federal government) act with: integrity, character, honesty, impartiality, judiciousness, benevolence, independence, honor, self-sacrifice (not the sacrifice of others), and virtue. Moreover, if federal employees cannot act in the foregoing manner, then everything they do is unconstitutional.
Currently, despite whatever successes and good features may be present, the United States is a failed state. It is a failed state because it gives expression to all the characteristics of a failed state.
(1) Failed States do not honor the provisions and guarantees of their constitutional documents – and the foregoing discussion has shown that the United States federal government has done this again and again.
(2) Failed states are unwilling or unable to protect their citizens – e.g., 9/11; Katrina; the BP/Deep Water Horizon catastrophe (along with many other environmental disasters); the financial meltdowns involving derivatives; the banking industry; endless wars for contrived reasons.
(3) Failed states tend to regard themselves as beyond the reach of domestic and international law – e.g., America’s opting out of the World Court, as well as its undermining the United Nations by continuing to support Israel’s illegal occupation and confiscation of Palestinian property, as well as Israel’s illegal wall, settlements and violation of Palestinian human rights.
(4) Failed states feel free, if not entitled, to carry out aggression and violence against other countries and peoples – e.g., the United States’ acts of unprovoked aggression against Iran, Guatemala, Cuba, Vietnam, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Chile, Grenada, Panama, Haiti, Iraq (twice), Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Palestinian people.
(5) Failed states suffer from a deficit of democratic institutions – e.g., America’s legal system Is broken and disadvantages the poor in all too many ways; congress is deadlocked and almost completely under the influence and control of lobbyists and special interests; the military is used as a tool for imperialistic and corporate agendas; the electoral process is deeply dysfunctional; the executive office often behaves as if it is a monarchical, imperial presidency that does not have to serve anything but its own agenda.
(6) Failed states usually have no, or little control, over their central banks or actively collude with such banks to the disadvantage of the vast majority of their citizens so that the latter are enslaved by the banking system rather than empowered by it – e.g., the Federal Reserve system is a consortium of private banking interests that was unconstitutionally legislated into existence and has never once been able to avert any of the crises (such as the Great Depression or the current near-Depression and the recent meltdown in the financial markets) for which it, allegedly, was created.
(7) Failed states are characterized by a media whose behavior and potential for objectivity and integrity have, in many ways, been co-opted -- e.g., if the American media had been objective and acted with integrity in relation to the events of 9/11 – which they did not—then America’s present situation might not be so dire.
(8) Failed states terrorize their own citizens and the citizens of other countries – e.g., the persistent evisceration of the American Constitution which has been perpetrated by all three branches of the federal government over the last several hundred years is nothing less than a series of terrorist attacks upon successive generations of American citizens, and such terrorist attacks have permitted other terrorist activities by the federal government to spill over into America’s treatment of many other countries and peoples around the world.
In view of the foregoing, I believe that there are roughly five choices facing the American people:
(a) Acknowledge that the 9/11 Commission was an unconstitutional usurpation of the rights of citizens under the 5th, 9th and 10th Amendments of the Constitution, as well as a violation of both the Preamble to the Constitution and Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution which guarantees republican government to all of the sates of the union, and, as a result, permit American citizens – not the government – to pursue a new investigation into the events: leading up to, occurring on, and ensuing from 9/11. This could be a first, and very necessary step that permits Americans to reclaim and reassert their right to a constitutional democracy that has integrity and other qualities of republican governance.
(b) Convene a new Constitutional convention in which the American people have an opportunity to correct all the things which currently help make the United States a failed nation.
(c) Permit states to secede and make their own arrangements – alone or in concert … and I might point out that although I consider much of the recent discussions concerning secession by various states (e.g., Texas) to be of a frivolous and ill-conceived nature, states do have the right to secede from the Union if the federal government breaks the Constitutional contract which binds states together. In fact, secession is one of the rights and powers that is entailed by the 9th and 10th Amendments, and, therefore, Lincoln was wrong when he sought to force states to remain in the Union. However poorly conceived a move to secede may be, it is neither necessarily an act of insurrection, nor is it an act of sedition or treason, and, therefore, the federal government has no power to prevent it. When the federal government, or any of its agents, no longer complies with the requirements of republican government, then the federal government has lent justification to the desire that people or states may carry with respect to the issue of secession.
(d) Enter into a series of bloody, chaotic rebellions, insurgencies, and insurrections through which multiple parties all vie to control other human beings and deprive the latter of their natural, inherent rights as human beings.
(e) Go with the status quo and be sucked down by the whirlpool in the toilet of an increasingly failed state.
The first option noted above – that is, holding a new, rigorous, independent investigation into the events surrounding 9/11-- is the easiest and least problematic choice facing the American people. Moreover, pursuing that choice might be the best chance America has of pulling back from the precipice of destruction on which the country is teetering.
The second option – that is, convening a new constitutional convention – might serve as a very constructive complement to the foregoing option. Although there is a great deal about America which is right, there also is far too much about America that is dysfunctional and destructive (with respect to ourselves and others), and, therefore, there is a deep need to revitalize and rededicate our democracy through establishing methods and principles that might permit America to be better than it has been over the last several hundred years.
Although the last three options noted above are actual possibilities that are staring us in the face, I don’t see any of them as being able to constructively solve the problems with which Americans are currently confronted even as I see different groups within the general population who seem to be increasingly advocating some form of secession, insurrection, or rebellion. Moreover, I feel that those individuals who believe that America will somehow stumble through the current Constitutional crisis without being required to change, in any essential way, the nature of governance or without having to change what is currently going on within government, are suffering from a form of thinking which is seriously delusional in nature.
We can choose to rid ourselves of our current failed state status, and I believe the first step in this process involves either: initiating a new, citizen-controlled but constitutionally authorized investigation into 9/11, and/or convening a new Constitutional convention. The alternative to the foregoing is that we can choose to become an increasingly failed state through secession, insurrection, rebellion, or maintaining the status quo.
America is at a tipping point. The fracture lines are running in all directions, and although just as no one can predict when a major earthquake will occur, all the indices are present to point to a coming cataclysmic social and political event or series of such events in our collective futures.
Time is running out. Important choices need to be made now, or very soon the capacity to choose might be ripped from our hands by social, political, and economic events that could inundate us in an irreversible fashion.