Friday, June 22, 2007

Nation of Scofflaws

In his Times-Standard column yesterday, David Cobb railed against national immigration sweeps that stormed into Fortuna last week, stranding children and removing bread winners from families who need them. “The reality is that the overwhelming majority of Americans are immigrants, or the direct descendants of immigrants,” he wrote.
Another weekly columnist, Leo Sears, wasted no time responding in today’s paper by poo-pooing the notion that the US is a nation of immigrants by insisting we are a “nation of laws.”
Sears is only partially right. We are a nation of selectively enforced laws, with the biggest lawbreakers often being those empowered to keep us in line. Just ask CIA Director Michael Hayden who announced yesterday that hundreds of pages detailing illegal CIA activity will be declassified. The documents will shed light on decades of domestic spying, kidnapping, and assassination attempts. Perhaps we should reverently stand to read these shameful pages -- placing hands over hearts -- while learning about government surveillance of journalists, infiltration of leftist groups, and covert experiments on civilians, including the use of drugs.
Not surprisingly, the CIA refers to these tactics as “the family jewels.” Apparently, it takes balls to be a sanctioned, well-paid criminal. Stephen Colbert would be proud.
Hayden says the documents “provide a glimpse of a very different time and a very different agency.” However, a quick glance at news over the last few years shows these activities by the US government continue with vigor.
George W. Bush is widely reported to have called the Constitution “just a goddamn piece of paper.” His administration behaves as such, trampling long-celebrated rights provided by the founding fathers.
Ripping families apart and orphaning children in the name of a “nation of laws” is an abuse of power -- just like government-tapped phone lines or FBI agents posing as human beings in order to infiltrate peace organizations.