Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The 9th and 10th Amendments as well as Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution: A Sufi Perspective

I recently watched a ‘Democracy Now’ interview with Tim Shorrock, author of ‘Spies for Hire’, who talked about the privatization of intelligence work in the United States. At a forum sponsored by The New York Times, Michael Hayden (former Director of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency) had once thrown out a bumper sticker suggestion which referred to the intelligence work of private contractors as constituting a ‘Digital Blackwater’, and the fact of the matter is that at least 70% of intelligence gathering is being handled by for profit corporations such as: Booz Allen Hamilton, Northrop Grumman, and Narus (an Israeli company now owned by Boeing). 

One wonders why Hayden didn’t mention a ‘Digital Xe’ or a ‘Digital Academi’. This might be because he wanted to avoid the embarrassment entailed by all the problematic reasons as to why Blackwater kept changing its corporate name and what the implications of such name changing were with respect to the issue of private corporations having control of sensitive intelligence.

During the interview, Shorrock made some very good points. One such point noted how many media people were asking the wrong kind of question with respect to the security issue.

More specifically, instead of inquiring about why a low level technician like Edward Snowden (employed by Booz Allen Hamilton) should be able to have access to the sort of high level information that was released through Glenn Greenwald at ‘The Guardian’ (and only a very small portion of that material has been disclosed publically), media people ought to be asking why private, for profit corporations like Booz Allen Hamilton have that sort of intimate access to people’s private information to begin with. Of course, one obvious reason why corporations have taken over a great deal of intelligence work is because corporations are legally privileged by a capacity for greater privacy than the federal government is, and, therefore, the ideological psychopaths in government can do an end-around the legal constraints that have been placed on them by the Constitutional framework by farming out otherwise illegal work (as far as federal law is concerned) to private corporations that are, on the one hand, not subject to the same degree of oversight as is the federal government, and, on the other hand, are legally entitled (both through federal and state laws) to resist overtures by the public to determine what such companies are actually up to.  

At another juncture of the interview, Tim Shorrock made, in my opinion, a, possibly, egregious error in judgment. Amy Goodman asked him whether he believed private contractors like Booz Allen Hamilton might be sharing sensitive intelligence with other corporations, and Shorrock indicated that he didn’t believe that was happening. 

The author of ‘Spies for Hire’ must have just returned from his post-book vacation on Jupiter. There is a long history of corporations – especially in the defense industry – adopting psychopathic-like behaviors when it comes to issues of morality and fairness to other human beings – whether in the United States or elsewhere, and one can be quite certain that if some given activity (for example, sharing sensitive information with another corporate entity) is in the financial interests of a corporation, then that company will pursue such an option and have little conscience when it comes to such trifling matters as morality or legality.

In 1953 Dwight Eisenhower gave his ‘Change for Peace’ speech. The speech was given quite a few years, and a lot of subsequent experience, before his more mature and sober ‘Military Industrial Complex’ reference given in his farewell speech. 

In the 1953 speech, Eisenhower said: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” The defense industry has been stealing from the poor, the hungry, the sick, and the homeless for decades now – as well as stealing from the rest of the citizens of the United States.

In an interesting side note to Eisenhower’s  ‘Military Industrial Complex’ speech, he actually wanted to refer to the ‘Congressional Military Industrial Complex’ in his farewell address. However, he got outflanked and was persuaded to consider such an idea as being tactically or strategically ill advised … which just goes to show that Eisenhower was as much a puppet of the real forces behind the throne as any of his successors were.

Kennedy – at least when he wasn’t secreting women in and out of the White House or arranging off-book trysts about which J. Edgar Hoover gathered intelligence and used to subtly blackmail Kennedy into doing Hoover’s bidding in a variety of issues (such as permitting Hoover to stay on as Director of the FBI longer than he was legally mandated to do) – did try to be his own man in some respects (e.g., the Cuban Missile Crisis along with his desire to get out of Viet Nam) but got assassinated for his troubles. And, the Hoover political blackmailing of Kennedy reminds me of a saying attributed to Lyndon Johnson when someone made the suggestion that Hoover needed to go – namely, “It is better to have Hoover in the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.”

Russ Tice – a former intelligence analyst for: the U.S. Air Force, Office of Naval Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency and who turned whistleblower – indicates that the intelligence gathering that is going on in relation to every level of American society is being used to induce politicians, judges, media representatives, and others to do the bidding of those who hold the intelligence data. Tice indicated that when he worked for the government, he personally saw the orders authorizing taps on Supreme Court Justices, U.S. Senators and Representatives, as well a fledgling political figure from Illinois – Barack Obama.

There is a revolving door shuttle service that takes people out of government and places them in positions of power within the corporate world, and, then, transfers such people back into the halls of governmental power. For instance, think about people like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld who traveled between government and the private sector so many times that if they got frequent flyer miles they would have been able to journey to Pluto for free, and, unfortunately, people like Cheney and Rumsfeld are not exceptions to the foregoing principle of power.

In any event, let us return to the Tim Shorrock judgment that he doesn’t believe private corporations are disclosing sensitive information to other select corporations (and the naivety displayed in such a judgment – or is it self-preserving prudence? – is such that I have some swamp property in Florida that he can have for a song). One wonders what the reasoning process was that leads him to such a conclusion.

After all, if private companies are prepared to shred the Constitution in their pursuit of money and power via the defense industry and the intelligence community (and there is a long history of such unconstitutional activities transpiring across many decades), then why would private corporations suddenly draw a line in the sand with respect to sharing sensitive intelligence with certain select corporations? Why would they all of a sudden develop a conscience and believe that such acts are immoral and illegal when the history of the defense industry and the intelligence community indicates that those corporations don’t care about morality or constitutionality – they only care about money and power?

Shorrock’s position also raises a much more worrisome issue. While I agree with him that analysts ought to be asking why private, for profit corporations are not only being permitted to gather, but to have access to, what should be the private information of American and non-American citizens, the fact of the matter is that the government should not have access to such information either, and this goes beyond the provisions of the 4th Amendment concerning a citizen’s right to be protected against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The 9th and 10th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution arose in order to assure citizens (and such concerns had been raised again and again during the Ratification Conventions held in the 13 states following the 1787 Philadelphia Constitutional Convention) that, among other things, the federal government was not going to introduce various governmental rights and powers in the future that were beyond the strictly enumerated ones that had been specified in the main body of the Constitution. However, along came some Machiavellian-influenced wunderkind (e.g., Alexander Hamilton) who introduced the idea of ‘implied powers’ – that is, those powers that were deemed ‘necessary and proper’ for the federal government to be able to exercise the powers it did have.

The three branches of the federal government have – via the magical elixir of ‘implied powers’ --  expanded the scope of their control far beyond the ones that are spelled out in the main body of the Constitution. In doing so, all three branches have violated the scope and spirit of the 9th and 10th Amendments, and, thus, in turn, all three branches have violated Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution – the section which specifies that the federal government “guarantees” every state and every citizen in the United States a ‘republican form of government … that is, a government which is characterized by moral, objective, compassionate, fair, judicious, reasoned, transparent, behavior in which the government cannot be judges in its own cause.

Thus, those FISA court individuals who empower some aspect of the federal government to become engaged in surveillance are acting as judges in their own cause because they are part of the federal government.  Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution prohibits this because being a judge in one’s own cause is inconsistent with the principles of republicanism … the Enlightenment moral philosophy with which the so-called ‘Framers’ of the Constitution were enamored and through which they believed they could introduce a revolutionary manner of governance.

Furthermore, every Supreme Court jurist continuously engages in activity that is forbidden by Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution.  They make judgments in accordance with their own philosophy of jurisprudence … philosophies that are not mentioned in the Constitution but are, instead, extra-legal and imported into governance as implied powers of the Constitution.

Of course, some spiritual son or daughter of Machiavelli will put forth the argument that if there are no implied powers in the Constitution as the Ninth and Tenth Amendments indicate, and if members of government are going to have to just get along with the strictly enumerated powers mentioned in the Constitution in accordance with the provisions of Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution, then how can one possibly govern effectively in the modern, complex world in which we find ourselves? By raising this sort of question, the person playing the role of the Devil’s advocate, is seeking to induce the great unwashed masses to feel sorry for the poor government leaders and relent on the matter so that the people in power can pursue their own self-serving ways to do whatever they like … invoking the mantra of implied powers just as they do when they cite national security as the reason why no one can know what they are doing or why they are doing it and that anyone who raises questions concerning such behavior is committing treason.

In reality, the seekers of power are trying to make their problem our problem. Instead of accepting the constraints on power that are entailed by Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution, along with the constraints on power that are inherent in the Bill of Rights -- especially the 9th and 10th Amendment -- the power mongers pose like some Dickensian orphan with bowl in hand saying, 'please sir, more ... power'. If we give them that for which they are begging, this is not compassion, it is stupidity.

The only people who are committing treason are the people in power. They are consistently seeking to undermine Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution, as well as continuously attempting to dismantle the provisions inherent in the Bill of Rights.

The ‘Implied Powers’ that members of the executive, judiciary, and legislative branches of the federal government are trying to invoke actually belong to the people and only to the people – not to the government. This arrangement was established through both the 9th and 10th Amendments, and if one studies the wording of those Amendments, one will discover that the people have a moral, legal and political standing which is quite independent of the federal and state governments when it comes to the exercise of rights and powers … and this is a standing which governments since the time of George Washington’s administration have sought to deny to the people … in fact, it is a standing that most of the so-called ‘Founding Fathers’ and ‘Framers’ ran rough shot over because they opposed George Mason’s attempt to have a bill of rights enshrined in the main body of the Constitution when it was being debated and written in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787, and, as well, the same aspiration to have a bill of rights of some kind embedded in the main body of the Constitution was thwarted at every turn during the Ratification Conventions that were held over the next several years.

Many of the power brokers in the federal government were not interested in pursuing the issue of rights for the people following the ratification of the Constitution. They were too busy pursuing their own agendas and purposes with respect to gaining control over the power that was being leveraged through the passing of the Constitution.

Only James Madison had a sufficient sense of decency -- or, perhaps, guilty conscience -- concerning what had transpired during the Philadelphia Convention and subsequent Ratification Conventions to be willing to finally introduce a set of proposed rights for Congressional consideration.  On the other hand,  Madison only introduced his proposals concerning rights because he was afraid that if someone did not follow through on the rights issue, then things might fall apart later on, and the federal government would lose the trust of the people and with it, more importantly, the leveraged power to govern ... as such, it was a tactical political move rather than an essential commitment to the issue of rights.

There are similarities and overlapping aspects between what Madison introduced and what was finally issued and sent to the states for ratification (and not all of the proposed rights were ratified). However, we have Roger Sherman to thank for the fact that the phrase:‘the people’ was added to the tenth amendment as a Constitutional entity that was distinct from either the federal or state governments.

A litany of federal government bodies across several hundred-plus years – and the state governments also have played their own power-grabbing role in this – have done their best to try to dumb down the public (which is one of the purposes of public education) and convince citizens that the people don’ t have the rights and powers that the people, in fact, do have. Moreover, the Supreme Court has, for the most part, conspired and colluded with the other branches of the federal government to frame the situation in a way that empowers federal authorities of whatever branch of government with a right to be judges in their own affair – something which is specifically prohibited by the guarantee inherent in Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution.

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