Opinion

Cracks in cornerstone of democracy | Guest Column

Preamble to the U.S. Constitution - Contributed photo
Preamble to the U.S. Constitution
— image credit: Contributed photo

Submitted by FH Friends of the Constitution

The Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution serves to limit and define the powers of government, to remind all members of the government that they serve the citizens, and that the citizens hold the right to restrain government.

Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution specifies the oath of office for the President: "I (name) 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."

Members of Congress, Federal Judges, and Federal employees also take an oath that includes the words, “I solemnly swear that I will support and protect the Constitution of the United States…”

This nation’s history demonstrates a healthy tension between the government and the governed surrounding the Bill of Rights. Until recently, the Bill of Rights has prevailed, although our history contains shameful abuses that we accept as excusable aberrations of  “American Exceptionalism”.

However, the abuses of the administrations of former President George W. Bush and current President Barrack Obama are so blatant and serious, and we citizens are so complacent and silent, that our democracy is compromised and weakened as never before. The commitments of both the federal government and “We the People” to the continuation of a democratic government is now a reasonable subject for debate.

Egregious examples of recent unconstitutional actions include: The lies that were the foundations of this Nation’s voluntary wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, and our current eagerness to become involved in Syria; “legal” laws including the Authorization for Use of Military Force that President Obama interprets to wage a worldwide, indefinite, “war on terrorism”; extra-judicial drone attacks inside sovereign nations to murder both foreign nationals and Americans citizens based on a secret “kill list”; warrantless wiretapping of American citizens; the collection of “any tangible thing” under the Patriot Act; and the National Defense Authorization Act that allows the military to arrest and detain American citizens indefinitely without charge or trial.

Recently we learned that the government is conducting secret, massive, unconstitutional surveillance in the United States and globally. Included are telephone records and access to all private data stored by Microsoft, AOL, Skype, Google, Apple and Facebook, including email, video chats, photos, files transfers and more.

Secret spying is a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”.

President Obama, and the complicit members of Congress, have violated their oaths of office. Irrespective of one’s political views, the constitutional abuses of President Obama and the complicity of the Congress cannot be excused.

Although spoken in a different context, the uplifting inaugural words of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 are appropriate today: “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

— Editor’s note: Friday Harbor Friends of the Constitution meet every other month; for info, contact Roger DeRoos, president of FHFC steering committee, 378-6323.

 

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