Interviews, Biographies and Latest Updates on Third Party Mayor Candidates for President and More
Democracy, elections and voting at Democracy Chronicles
Democracy Chronicles always tries to support diversity of opinion including giving voices outside of the Democratic and Republican parties. Here are three pieces from Wikinews, Wikipedia’s free news source, that discuss the recent changes in the race for President and includes some interviews.
Governer, Congressman and Mayor
1. Buddy Roemer ends Republican presidential bid to seek Reform Party nomination
2. Wikinews interviews former Congressman Virgil Goode, Constitution Party presidential candidate
3. Wikinews interviews former Salt Lake City mayor and 2012 presidential candidate Rocky Anderson
Buddy Roemer ends Republican presidential bid to seek Reform Party nomination
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer ended his campaign for the Republican Party (GOP) presidential nomination yesterday to seek the backing of the Reform Party of the United States of America. He plans to make the official announcement at a press conference later today, and also reaffirms his quest for the Americans Elect nod.
Roemer, who limits campaign contributions to $100.00 and does not accept money from Political Action Committees, has made campaign finance reform a centerpiece of his run. He announced his candidacy last July, but was unable to make headway in presidential polls. As a result, he was not invited to any GOP debates.
Last December, Roemer announced that he would seek the nomination of Americans Elect, an independent organization hoping to field a nonpartisan presidential ticket. Later that month, he addressed the Reform Party of New Jersey, fueling speculation that he would seek the party’s nomination. However, after the meeting, campaign manager Carlos Sierra told Wikinews that Roemer “does not intend to seek their nomination”. He now says that Roemer changed his mind after “[n]ot getting into any of the GOP debates.”
Industrialist Ross Perot founded the Reform Party in 1995. As the party’s first presidential nominee in 1996, he received over eight percent of the popular vote, the highest percentage for a third party candidate since. After this, the party was plagued by infighting, and decreased in prominence. In 2008, Ted Weill was nominated for president, but appeared on the ballot in only Mississippi, receiving 481 votes. Since then, the party has revived somewhat, and has already attained ballot access in four states.
Wikinews held a forum in January for the candidates seeking the party’s presidential nomination. All three then-candidates participated, including former college football coach Robby Wells, Earth Intelligence Network CEO Robert David Steele, and small business owner Andre Barnett.
Since then, Steele ended his campaign, and Wells dropped out to seek the Constitution Party nomination. For now, Roemer will face Barnett, as well as economist Dick McCormick, who recently announced his candidacy.
Roemer plans to make his announcement today in Santa Monica, California. His campaign manager looks forward to the next stage, explaining, “we believe we can form a powerful coalition of Americans who are tired of the status quo.”
Wikinews interviews former Congressman Virgil Goode, Constitution Party presidential candidate
Monday, February 27, 2012
Former Congressman Virgil Goode of Virginia spoke with Wikinews reporter William S. Saturn about his newly announced 2012 presidential campaign. Goode is currently seeking the nomination of the Constitution Party, a U.S. third party.
Goode served in the Virginia State Senate for twenty-three years. In 1996, he was elected to represent Virginia’s Fifth U.S. congressional district as a Democrat, and was re-elected two years later. Goode left the Democratic Party before his second re-election campaign in 2000, and ran as an Independent. He joined the Republican Party ahead of the 2002 election, and was re-elected three additional times until his defeat in 2008. Since then, Goode has joined the Constitution Party, and has served on its executive committee.
The Constitution Party was founded in 1991 as the U.S. Taxpayers Party. Eight years later, it changed to its current name. The party advocates states’ rights, gun rights, limited government, protectionism, and non-interventionism. It strongly opposes abortion and illegal immigration. In terms of voter registration, it is the third largest U.S. political party with 367,000 members. Pastor Chuck Baldwin won the party’s 2008 presidential nomination, and appeared on 37 state ballots receiving 199,314 votes (0.15%).
Goode had been speculated to make a run for the party’s presidential nomination since last year. In fact, the executive committee passed a resolution last spring to convince him to run. Goode filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on February 10, and announced his candidacy to the Daily Caller six days later.
The 2012 Constitution Party National Convention will be held in April. Other candidates seeking the nomination include former Savannah State football coach Robby Wells. National chairman Jim Clymer described Goode last summer as the frontrunner for the party’s nomination.
To Wikinews, Goode affirmed his credentials for the presidency and shared his view on the Obama administration. Among other issues, he addressed immigration, spending, energy, and foreign policy.
Virgil Goode Interview
Virgil Goode: I served in the Virginia State Senate from December 1973 to January 1997. 23 years. Then I was in the United States House of Representatives from January 1997 to January 2009.
What exactly did you do during those years?
Goode: Well, in the Virginia Senate, I served on a number of different committees, and became familiar with the operation of the Virginia State government. And then the U.S. House of Representatives where I served twelve years, I became familiar with the operation of the federal government. I was on the Appropriations Committee for several congresses, and that helped with the understanding of the budget and the need that we have to make a serious cut in order to achieve balance. One of my main points is to achieve a balanced budget, sooner not later, not five years down the road, not ten years down the road. We need to do that now. I also understand the need for secure borders. And I am the only candidate that is in favor of totally stopping illegal immigration, and reducing legal immigration. Immigration costs this country billions of dollars. We should not be bringing in more green card holders while our unemployment rate is between eight and nine percent. We need jobs in America, and U.S. citizens first, and not bring in so many from other countries that take jobs from U.S. citizens.
Why did you decide to join the Constitution Party and seek its nomination?
I have been going to the National Committee meetings. I am a member of the National Committee of the Constitution Party, and I’ve attended about ten meetings. The Constitution National Committee, unlike the Republican National Committee and unlike the Democratic National Committee, was willing to take a stand and support the Arizona legislation to counteract illegal immigration. I think the federal government should be supportive of the efforts of states to deal with the problems, and of course the current administration does not. And the Republican National Committee did not do a resolution supporting Arizona like the Constitution Party National Committee.
If you win the nomination, are you concerned you will take votes away from the Republicans and help re-elect Barack Obama?
Goode: No. I think I’ll take votes from Obama. I just talked to the guy that filled my tanks with gas. I’ve known him for many years. He’s gonna vote for Obama — he was — but he says now, he’s gonna vote for me. So I think I’ll take as many votes from Obama as I will from the Republican. I think when people focus on our campaign, we’re gonna get a lot of votes from both Democrats and Republicans. My campaign is only taking donations of $200 and less. That’s a grassroots campaign. Running a grassroots campaign should be very appealing to Democrats who do not favor the big money that’s backing President Obama. He’s lowering the ethics with big PAC donations , and he has maximum limit donations, which I believe is about $10,000 per couple now. Our limit is $200, so I think we’ll take votes from President Obama and with those who really want to balance the budget right away will vote with us too.
If you were elected in 2008, what would you have done differently than Obama?
Goode: I would not have pushed for Obamacare. I would have secured the borders, stopped illegal immigration, reduced legal immigration, done away with diversity visas, supported legislation to stop automatic birthright citizenship for those born of illegals that come into this country. And I would not have adopted the stimulus bill that he approved with all deficit spending. There are many areas that need to be cut. When I was in Congress, I was often among the lowest spenders of the Congressional expense money. We need to do that across all levels of the federal government. Instead of expanding government, we need to have less regulation, and encourage the private sector. I also would have supported drilling off the coast. For example, I’m from Virginia. The Virginia General Assembly has passed resolutions indicating its support of drilling off the coast of Virginia. I would have allowed that instead of blocking it like President Obama. I will also support the Keystone Pipeline, which he is opposing. We need to have lower energy costs. Lower energy costs would do most to enhance jobs, and most little small initiatives done by the president in other areas.
Would you have ordered the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen?
Goode: I don’t know if the president ordered that. Our national defense forces found him and he was fought in parcel with Osama bin Laden, and I think they did the right thing in taking out Osama bin Laden.
But was it right to take out Anwar al-Awlaki?
Goode: Let’s make sure we’re taking about the same one. Is that the guy in Yemen?
Yes, the internet al-Qaeda leader.
Goode: I would want more intelligence than I have available to me right now.
Well he was an American citizen, so do you believe that we should treat American citizens overseas that are considered to be dangerous differently than others?
Goode: Well let me ask you this: Did President Obama order his killing?
I believe he did.
Goode: Well I want to know more facts before I say yes or no. Did he do an act that effectively renounced his citizenship? He may have and may have committed treason. So to answer that precisely, I would have to have more. I would have to be privy to the intelligence briefings that president Obama had and that the members of the House and Senate intelligence committeeshad. And I would like to also get the opinions of the members of the intelligence committee of the House and the Senate. And I would want to ascertain whether he was truly a citizen of the United States. Was he a dual-citizen? You don’t know that do you?
I don’t know for sure.
Yeah, I don’t either so I want to know more facts before I could say flat out one way or another.
Okay, let’s talk more about foreign policy. In 2002, you voted to authorize the Iraq War and you supported the troop surge in 2007. However, the Constitution Party platform opposes undeclared wars, and supports a non-interventionist foreign policy. Do you stand by your previous votes?
Goode: Now if I was voting on that situation in 2008, 2009, 2010, I would have said we shouldn’t go forward unless Congress debates the issue and declares war.
As president, how would you address the nuclear situation in Iran?
Goode: Well again, I would want to have more intelligence than I have about the status of their situation. And I don’t think the United States should commit an act of war unless Congress authorizes it.
How will you turn around the American economy?
Goode: Much greater energy exploration in this country, more drilling, the Keystone Pipeline, and hopefully bringing us independence with a surplus of energy production like that of Canada. Canada’s economic situation has improved significantly since they are producing so much oil, and they are going forward with that. And it has significantly helped Canada’s economic situation. And I believe that we need to be energy independent and we cannot do it by waving off so much oil from many areas of the United States and off the shores for exploration. We’ve got to go forward with that. And I also support alternative energies like wind and solar, and reduce regulations on them. But we can’t do what has been done recently because of the budget deficit in making loans and grants in seeking alternative energy forms.
My last question is what necessary freedoms are currently lacking in American society?
Goode: Give me an example of a necessary freedom, and I can answer your question.
Such as any of our natural human rights.
Goode: What’s a natural human right? I believe we need freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of speech…
But do you believe any of those are being hindered right now in the United States?
Goode: I’m sure there are instances where they are, but I believe that our Constitutional rights as set forth in the bill of rights and in the amendments to the Constitution need to be preserved and protected.
Wikinews interviews former Salt Lake City mayor and 2012 presidential candidate Rocky Anderson
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Former Salt Lake City mayor and human rights activist Rocky Anderson took some time to discuss his 2012 U.S. presidential campaign and the newly-created Justice Party with Wikinews reporter William S. Saturn.Anderson served as mayor of Salt Lake City for eight years (2000–2008) as a member of the Democratic Party. During his tenure, he enacted proposals to reduce the city’s carbon emissions, reformed its criminal justice system, and positioned it as a leading sanctuary for refugees. After leaving office, Anderson grew critical of the Democratic Party’s failure to push for impeachment against President George W. Bush, and for not reversing policies on torture, taxes, and defense spending. He left the party earlier this year and announced that he would form a Third party.Anderson officially established the Justice Party last week during a press conference in Washington D.C.. He proclaimed “We the people are powerful enough to end the perverse government-to-the-highest-bidder system sustained by the two dominant parties…We are here today for the sake of justice — social justice, environmental justice and economic justice.” The party promotes campaign finance reform and is attempting to appeal to the Occupy Wall Street movement. It is currently working on ballot access efforts, and will hold a Founding Convention in February 2012 in Salt Lake City.
Among other issues, Anderson discussed climate change, health care, education, and civil liberties. He detailed his successes as mayor of Salt Lake City, stressed the importance of executive experience, and expressed his views on President Barack Obama and some of the Republican Party presidential candidates. He spoke in depth about former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, with whom he worked during the 2002 Winter Olympics, and fellow Utahan, former governor and U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Jr..
INTERVIEW with Rocky Anderson
William S. Saturn: Could you list some of your accomplishments as mayor of Salt Lake City?
Rocky Anderson: I served for eight years and during that time, Salt Lake City became known as the model city for providing leadership onclimate change solutions. Just before the 2002 Winter Olympic games, I declared that we would meet at least the Kyoto Protocol goals, and we far exceeded those in a very short period of time with 31 percent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions during the course of three years. I was a vigorous advocate for mass transit and was able to resurrect a light rail system that was voted down by our city council within days after my election. I was able to turn around the public opposition and not only received a unanimous vote from the city council but also obtained federal funding.
I put in place a comprehensive restorative justice program that became a nationwide model. We were one of three finalists for the World Leadership Award by the World Leadership Forum in London for our restorative justice program, which focuses on solutions rather than simply punishment and retribution. We fought against sprawl development incorporating principles of smart urban growth development with transit orientation development projects and opposition to sprawl-inducing new highways and increased dependence on the automobile. I started a city-wide youth afterschool and summer program called YouthCity, and always pursued public policy with the understanding that upfront investments in making things better including opportunities for young people was far better for all in our community and far less expensive than ignoring those upfront needs and having to deal with the disasters down the road.
We know that if we keep our young people engaged and teach them skills including social skills, we have a lot better shot of building safer healthier and sustainable communities, and at the same time keeping these young people out of trouble.I helped change, well, I led for the change in the culture of our police department where there was much more community-oriented policing where police were held accountable for not only excessive force against our residents and visitors but also even for rude behavior.
I instituted a crisis intervention team program where officers were trained in recognizing and dealing with people with mental illnesses. Before I was mayor, I noticed that police were getting in confrontations with people with mental illnesses and escalate situations to the point of, in some cases even shooting and killing mentally ill people. We see that happen in communities all over the country and it’s so important that our police be trained to recognize the root causes of some violent behavior and understand when to back off and resolve the situation without further violence.
Our prosecutor’s office and police department were very supportive of our restorative justice program, which took a solution based approach to a wide variety of situations including public sex, drug abuse, prostitution, dealing with both prostitutes and johns. We had a homeless court, we had a mental illness court so that if homelessness or mental illness was at the root of illegal conduct, we could deal with those issues in a constructive way rather than simply running people through the criminal justice revolving door, which is very expensive and in the end destructive to everybody’s interests.
I was a big proponent and testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee regarding the proposal to transport and store high level nuclear waste, first, on a supposedly temporary basis at the Goshute Reservation in Utah and ultimately at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
How critical is it for a presidential candidate to have executive experience?
I think it’s extremely important for someone to be able to demonstrate in an executive capacity, he or she can handle the pressure, know how to deal with differing interests, and come to the best solutions. I know some people get in an executive position and they become very dictatorial and dogmatic about what they’re doing. I’ve always held the view both as a practicing lawyer, as president of my law firm and of course as mayor and then later as executive director of High Road for Human Rights, that you’re going to do a much better job if you learn as much as you can about any topic before you form your views and then still bring in those who have opposing views to hear them out and to learn, try to learn.
That’s how we were able to get the light rail project completed right in the beginning of my term. There was a group called Citizens Against Light Rail that formed and they even had their own letterhead and logo, and the leaders of that group will tell you that the first thing I did was brought the opponents all together at my home, went through what caused them to oppose light rail, and we figured out through a really constructive problem solving exercise during the course of several intense weeks, how to resolve most of those issues, and those opponents to light rail were very much in favor of it and are real champions of the community-based problem-solving process that we’ve put into place.
That’s also become the national model. We put together a community team of people that was comprised of businesses and residents all along the construction route that would determine whether the contractors would receive bonus payments, and then we set very clear guidelines for those contractors in terms of dust control, noise control, hours of construction, keeping one lane of traffic open at all times so businesses could continue to have access. This system had the contractor very very sensitive to the concerns of those along the construction route and ways we certainly didn’t see during the construction of light rail down Main Street under my predecessor.
And contractors ended up received either 96 or 97 percent of possible bonus payments because of that increased sensitivity, and members of the community felt like they had real power, which of course they did. That’s how it ought to be.I think in terms of executive experience, knowing how to bring those opposing forces together, solve problems, being respectful, and always having in mind that just because you’re in that position doesn’t make you any smarter or wiser than you were before. That shared wisdom can mean everything in terms of one’s success.
According to an article in The Nation publication from 2006, a supporter asked you to run for president, but you told them that a run would require money and the backing of the state machine, which would be virtually impossible in conservative Utah. You added, “If I thought I could win, I would [run].” How is the atmosphere in 2012 better for you than it was in 2008?
Anderson: Well first of all, as reflected by the Occupy Movement, people in this country across the board understand how diseased and corrupt our system is, both our electoral system and the system of governance. We know now that there have been repeated failures in public policy that are a direct result of the corrupting influence of money. We’d have a universal health care system like the rest of the industrialized world were it not for the corrupting influence of medical insurance money. We wouldn’t be wasting billions, upon billions of dollars for unnecessary weapons programs, where the stranglehold and the corrupting influence of money from the military-industrial complex; we were warned about that by President Eisenhower during his last speech.
The deregulation of the financial institutions that led toward this nation’s and the world’s economic disaster from which we’re all still suffering, would never have come about were it not for the corrupting influence of money in the system. President Obama for instance, received more money from Wall Street than any other candidate in our nation’s history, and so they got a really good return on their investment because the Obama administration has not brought one person to justice for the massive financial fraud that took place that helped lead to this economic cataclysm.
The failure of our nation to provide international leadership on climate change and to develop a policy that would result in energy independence is a direct result of the corrupting influence of money from the coal, oil, and gas industries. I don’t think President Obama woke up one day and decided it would be a really good public policy to veto the EPA’s position of more strict limits on ozone in our communities. Ozone creates so many illnesses and even death. Rather, his decision was just another example of his kowtowing to polluting industries. Likewise, he could have put an end to any possibility of the Keystone Pipeline, yet he’s just put it off, delayed it until after the election, and by all other signs from how he’s conducted himself as president, it is pretty apparent that he will end up approving that pipeline if he is reelected.
So, the American people understand that. They want to see people in elective office that for a change are not going to be sustaining and sustained by the corrupting influence of money in our government. They want to see that the public interest is promoted for a change. So, we have that elevated awareness about what’s going on in our government, about which people are very unhappy as reflected in 9 percent approval rating for congress and a low 40s percent approval rating for our president.
But it was just a sign of things to come, they always talked about the rule of law, he has greater contempt for the rule of law, I think, than George W. Bush. He comes into office, says, “oh, we’re going to look forward, not backwards” in terms of holding accountable war criminals? And those were criminals not only under international law, the Geneva Convention, the Convention Against Torture, but under our own laws passed by Congress: War Crimes Act of 1996 and the federal torture statute. Clearly, an illegal act, and he says, “let’s just look forward, not backwards”. But he’s done the same thing for the people who committed such massive financial fraud on Wall Street without holding any one of them accountable.
He has reinforced this notion that there’s this narrow special aristocracy in this country, who are the most wealthy and the most powerful, and the contributors to his campaign, by the way, who aren’t going to be held accountable to the law while the rest of us oftentimes suffer just the most extreme consequences from the application of the laws, especially in the area of drugs, where tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, people have in our prisons because of violations of our drug laws.
What is your take on the GOP field, particularly Jon Huntsman, Jr., and Mitt Romney, both of whom you’ve endorsed in past elections?
Rocky Anderson: They both have been good friends of mine. The Mitt Romney I knew is a very different Mitt Romney than the one who’s been running for president. The Mitt Romney I knew believed in Roe v. Wade, that it came to the right result and with that ought to be established law and that we should just move on with it. This Mitt Romney, who, the last time he ran said we shouldn’t politicize Guantanamo, he doesn’t seem to have any regard for human rights, he’s gone back and forth and back and forth…
Well, he did it as governor before the time he announced that he was going to run for president. But he’s even done it while he’s been running for president, this time, in terms of climate change. Out of one side of his mouth, he’s talking about how climate change is a problem, we need to deal with it. By the way, George W. Bush even said that. And then later on, he says, well we don’t really know the causes of climate change. But, he knows very well the causes of climate change. He knows how thescientific community feels on that issue.
But he’s doing whatever he can to win the election.I think Jon Huntsman is on the whole very different than that. He stood by his views. He was governor of the state of Utah, advocating domestic partnerships, that is equal treatment under the law for members of the GLBT community. And I say equal, wasn’t quite equal because he still hasn’t reached a point where he embraces the idea of marriage equality as I have for decades. And actually had marriage equality when I ran for Congress in 1996, it became a core part of the opposition against me and probably led to my defeat in 1996. But he’s stood up on these issues, he’s stood up on the issue of climate change when he was governor.
I think it was fantastic when he stood up during a debate and talked about how the Republican Party should no longer be the anti-science party. What an amazing thing. I mean one would think the bar is set that low that it would be amazing, but in this environment right now, for him to say that to the Republican Party while he’s running for their nomination. And then of course he was one of only two people who had the moral courage and sense to say “we should never be torturing”, and that is so counter to our nation’s heritage from the very beginning George Washington prohibited torture of British soldiers, and that’s been not only the law, but the ethic of our country from the very beginning. It’s only changed during this last decade and that’s part of a very dangerous trend toward an imperial presidency and the disregard for human rights, and it’s really so undermined our standing and not only undermined our standing, but created so much hatred toward the United States in many parts of the world.
So, Jon Huntsman is a bright, good man. We differ on a lot of things: I differ with him on offshore drilling, I differ with him on the keystone pipeline, on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But I think Jon, especially having served as U.S. ambassador to China understands all the amazing progress China has made in the area of green technology. China is just beating us in every possible way when it comes to green technology. They’re producing more than half of world’s solar panels, they’re producing more than half of the world’s wind turbines. Now, they’re incorporating these green technologies in their buildings and they’re insisting every mayor find ways to cut down on the use of energy in their communities.
They know how to get the job done, and in this country, I mean, we look at our country and say well that they’re totalitarian, and yeah they have people who can say this is what we have to do, this is our goal, and now you have to go get it done or you’re not going to hold your job anymore. In this country, we have the pretense of democracy, but we know that it’s with corporations that are benefiting so much from these disasters in public policy that are calling the shots. And we’re not moving toward what would serve the public’s interest, and that’s clearly shown in the area of climate change and energy policy as it is when we see the work that we’re paying a lot more for drugs than other countries because of the corrupting influence of the pharmaceutical industry and the way that we’ve been sold out by those in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats who are feeding at the same special interest trough of corrupting money.
Did you watch last night’s [December 15] GOP debate?
Anderson: No. I didn’t.
Well, one candidate that was not invited to the debate was former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer, who like you, is limiting individual campaign contributions to $100. Did your idea to do this come from Roemer?
Anderson: No. No I didn’t, frankly, I didn’t realize that he was doing that. I heard Jeffrey Sachs talking about how these races could be won and the message to get across to people, and I said, absolutely that’s what we ought to do. Just set a $100 limit and let everybody know: they’re equal players, we’re all shareholders, we’re all shareholders in this, and no special interest is going to come along and have any special access or influence.
What is the single most important issue facing Americans right now and how will you address this as president?
Rocky Anderson: The single most important issue facing our country is providing jobs, education, enhanced infrastructure, and encouraging innovation because we are falling so far behind the rest of the world. And part of that innovation and investment needs to be addressing climate change because in the long run, the impacts from climate change are going to be greater than…from any other shorter term issue right now.
Fiscal policy of course relates to all of that. We need to bring in adequate revenues so that we’re not passing off on to the next generation this enormous debt and interest burden, and we also need to get our spending under control, but still with an eye toward priming the pump during this recession and providing the kind of infrastructure, education, and innovation that’s going to serve this country not only for the present but far out into the future.
This is my last question. What necessary freedoms are currently lacking in American society?
Anderson:There has never been a time in our nation’s history when the executive branch has claimed so much power and abused that power and that runs the gamut. Our president has asked for the legal authority to point to anybody, even citizens of this country; have them taken away, essentially kidnapped, disappeared, detained without any limit; no legal representation, no charges, no trial. It is so absolutely contrary to what our constitution is based upon and what our system of government is based upon. It’s contrary to our nation’s heritage, to our most dearly held values. The Senate just passed this incredible bill, the Federal Military Authorization Act that would allow for that detention based on who-knows-what kind of information, no standard of proof, no public hearing. It’s not like these people are infallible.
All three branches of government have been part of this deterioration of the law. Courts through the very subversive state secrets doctrine will dismiss cases, not on the merits, but on the basis of the very perpetrator, the executive branch, coming to it and saying that the case cannot move forward because to do so would mean the disclosure of state secrets that would be contrary to national security, and so the courts throw the cases out. That is perhaps the most subversive thing that’s ever happened in this country because our system of government is based on the system of separation of powers and checks and balances. The courts are there in large part to protect against abuses of power including illegal conduct by the executive branch. If that check isn’t there, that spells tyranny. That means the executive branch can do whatever it wants, regardless of the law, even domestic laws and treaty obligations that have been passed by Congress.
So there have been torture victims, and by the way, these torture victims it has been established, they have zero connection to terrorism. Torture victims have come to our courts with the claims and they’re proven claims by the way that they were kidnapped by the CIA, disappeared from their families and other loved ones, whisked off, one to an Afghanistan prison and another one to a Syrian prison. They were tortured. They were held for several months: one five months, the other one a year. One was a German citizen, the other a Canadian citizen.
They come to our courts to challenge that illegal conduct, and by the way, the United States has assured the United Nations Committee Against Torture that we provide these kinds of remedies for victims of torture. So they come in, seek justice, seek a means of getting the truth out, and what is the response of the both the Bush and the Obama administration? They oppose the lawsuits even moving forward on the merits because, among other reasons, the state’s secret doctrine and the courts dismiss the cases. That is absolutely un-American.
The Bush administration, contrary to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act approved over the course of years, numerous dictates, we don’t know how many because the truth hasn’t come out, but likely tens if not hundreds of thousands of instances of warrantless surveillance of communications by American citizens. Not just telephone calls, but e-mail communications and otherwise. President Bush promised us the warrants were being obtained in all those cases. He was lying to us.
He later admitted “yeah I ordered the national security agency to go ahead and do that.” So there hasn’t been one person prosecuted when people have come into our courts to challenge that illegal surveillance and a 2 to 1 decision by one of our circuit courts, the determination was made that they don’t have standing to pursue the cases because they can’t prove that their individual communications were subjected to that illegal surveillance, and the reason they can’t determine if their communications were subject to that surveillance was because of the state’s secrets doctrine. The government was able to block them from getting that information once again asserting the state’s secrets doctrine.
So we have lost freedoms in very fundamental ways. We’re a country where no longer can even pretend to abide by the rule of law. Where congress will pass retroactive immunity legislation, letting corporations that can pump $12 million into their lobbyists in three months, letting them off the hook for their felonious misconduct. Where torturers are not held to account. Where there aren’t even investigations. At least, in the late 70’s, when there were abuses in the intelligence community, Congress had states’ people that would come together as under the Church Committee and investigate these matters and disclose to the American people, which led to legislation that would help deter these kinds of things from happening in the future. There’s none of that. There’s nothing to deter that kind of misconduct; the kind of absolutely subversive un-American activity within our executive branch. And Congress sits by let like the biggest bunch of patsies. Not asserting their constitutional prerogatives, not exercising their constitutional responsibilities to provide a check against those kinds of abuses.