by Charles Hugh-Smith
The last time the U.S. Congress pushed back against the Imperial Presidency and the over-reach of the nation’s Security Agencies was 43 years ago, in 1975.
The last time the U.S. Congress pushed back against the Imperial Presidency and the over-reach of the nation’s Security Agencies was 43 years ago, in 1975. In response to the criminal over-reach of the Imperial Presidency (Watergate) and to the criminal over-reach of the security agencies (FBI, CIA, et al.), the Church Committee finally resusitated the constitutional powers of the Congress to serve the interests of the citizenry rather than the interests of political elites and the rogue agencies of the federal government.
The erosion of congressional power (or more correctly, the surrender of power by Congress) long pre-dates 9/11. The rise of the Imperial Presidency and the Shadow State of “national security” agencies dates back to World War II. Those interested in tracing this long-term and troubling decline of the constitutional powers of the elected representatives may find value in these two books: The Imperial Presidency(Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.) and Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy
The constitution grants the greatest powers to the elected representatives of the citizenry. The power to declare war, for example, has been eroded to the point that the Imperial Executive can wage essentially unlimited wars with little actual oversight by Congress.
There is a bitter irony in the Democrats’ rush to “defend” the indefensible over-reach of the FBI and CIA to those whose rights were abused by the FBI and the CIA in the blatantly illegal COINTELPRO programs aimed at destroying the anti-war/ anti-civil rights movements in the 1960s and early 1970s.
(It has been estimated that up to 80% of the FBI’s resources were devoted to targeting a handful of draft resisters and civil rights groups in this era. While TV programs presented a propaganda facade of incorruptible crime fighters, in the real world FBI and CIA agents broke into private offices, hired thugs to beat up anti-war leaders, conducted illegal surveillance, and so on.)
The irony is that the agencies the Democrats are now rushing to defend were targeting the “progressives” who dared to resist the foreign policies and domestic oppression of the federal government.
(So much for the bona-fides of the current crop of self-proclaimed “progressives.” Those of us hauled in for interrogation by the FBI for resisting state policies have a different definition of “progressive;” note to Democrats: rushing to defend the politicized American Stasi is the opposite of “progressive.”)
We know from the Church Committee reports that the FBI and CIA broke numerous federal laws and violated every constitutional limit on their powers as a matter of daily policy. The abuses of power were not the work of rogue agents; they were the work of rogue agencies, from the top down.
For more on COINTELPRO, please read War at Home: Covert action against U.S. activists and what we can do about it and/or Cointelpro: The FBI’s Secret War on Political Freedom.
And here we are again, with rogue security agencies abusing their powers. All that’s changed is the political parties have switched places; where the Republicans were defending the status quo abuse of power then and the Democrats were pushing for a transparent investigation of the agencies’ abuses of power, now it’s the Democrats who are defending the agencies’ abuses of power while the Republicans are pushing for a transparent investigation of the agencies’ abuses of power.
I don’t care which party is pushing for the unmasking of these undemocratic Shadow State agencies; I only care that Congress awakens from its decades of surrendering power to the out-of-control “security agencies” and the Imperial Presidency, which characterizes both Democrat and Republican presidents.
The task of uncovering security agencies’ abuses of power is made more difficult by the rise of political polarization. Unmasking abuses of power shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and the nation’s best hope is the rise of independents who view both parties with revulsion born of the status quo’s profound failures to defend the rights and livelihoods of the bottom 95%.
I’ve written extensively about state over-reach and illegal suppression of dissent: remember, the state exists to enforce the dominance of Elites: everything else is propaganda, misdirection and obfuscation.
We’re in a Boiling-Point Crisis of Exploitive Elites (June 19, 2017)
Welcome to the United States of Orwell, Part 3: We had to Destroy Democracy in Order to Save It (March 28, 2012)
State Over-Reach: Stripmining the Citizenry for Fun and Profit (November 13, 2009)
When It Becomes Serious, First They Lie–When That Fails, They Arrest You (March 16, 2015)
by Charles Hugh-Smith