Sunday, December 06, 2015

"Keeping the American people safe" - to the exclusion of the Constitution

The White House website presents President Obama's address later today this way: "On Sunday, December 6, at 8:00 pm ET, President Obama will address the nation from the Oval Office about the steps our government is taking to fulfill his highest priority: Keeping the American people safe." (my emphasis)

The experience since 2001 of the so-called "war on terror" has convinced me that such seemingly innocuous formulations are actually dangerous.

From Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution: "Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—'I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'"

Defending the Constitution of course includes defending the people of the country against foreign enemies and domestic ones that threaten the Constitutional order: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence." (Article 4.4)

But preserving the Constitution and a "Republican Form of Government" also means protecting due process of law and basic freedoms. Including the freedoms of speech, press, religion and assembly. Not just the Ku Klux Klan version of the Second Amendment.

And we've seen way too much of government officials and Members of Congress, both Republican and Democratic, showing indifference and even hostility toward basic Constitutional freedoms in the name of "keeping the American people safe."

But the right to war profiteering, its main beneficiaries tend to think that "safety" will protect their most sacred right just fine.

Lee Fang and Zaid Jilani report in Defense Contractors Cite “Benefits” of Escalating Conflicts in the Middle East The Intercept 12/04/2015:

Major defense contractors Raytheon, Oshkosh, and Lockheed Martin assured investors at a Credit Suisse conference in West Palm Beach this week that they stand to gain from the escalating conflicts in the Middle East.

Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President Bruce Tanner told the conference his company will see “indirect benefits” from the war in Syria, citing the Turkish military’s recent decision to shoot down a Russian warplane.

The incident, Tanner said, heightens the risk for U.S. military operations in the region, providing “an intangible lift because of the dynamics of that environment and our products in theater.” He also stressed that the Russian intervention would highlight the need for Lockheed Martin-made F-22s and the new F-35 jets.

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