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Invoking ‘State Secrets’: Still the Status Quo?

Earlier this week, we flagged an interesting piece in the New York Times about the U.S. government invoking the state secrets privilege to block evidence in lawsuits against a contractor who had duped the U.S. government into spending millions on what many now consider to be fake counterterrorism technology.

According to another recent report, the U.S. invoked state secrets to block a personal injury lawsuit by a CIA employee who alleged that environmental contamination in his home made his family sick. That got us wondering about what else the U.S. has invoked state secrets for—particularly under the Obama administration, which had pledged to end abuses of the privilege.

"Numbers aside, there is a great deal of continuity between the Bush and Obama administrations,” Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy expert with the Federation of American Scientists, told us. “And there is no case where the Obama administration has rescinded a claim of state secrets privilege that was advanced by the Bush [administration]."

Here’s a quick review of some of them:

To block a lawsuit seeking to prevent the U.S. government from killing Anwar Al-Awlaki, an American citizen accused of having ties to al-Qaeda. The Times noted that while the U.S. government did not confirm that Awlaki was on its “targeted killings” list, it invoked the state secrets privilege, arguing that the case “cannot be litigated without risking or requiring the disclosure of classified and privileged intelligence information that must not be disclosed.”

To block evidence in lawsuits against government contractors involved in the government’s extraordinary rendition program. Months after President Obama took office, his Justice Department surprised federal judges by invoking the state secrets privilege again in a case filed by five detainees who said they were abducted and flown to other countries—where they allege they were tortured—on flights arranged by a Boeing subsidiary.

To block lawsuits over the Bush administration’s domestic wiretapping program. In one case inherited from the Bush administration, Obama’s Justice Department continued to argue that classified records of eavesdropping on an Islamic charity were state secrets. That evidence was excluded, and the case was allowed to proceed. Wired magazine noted that the two wiretapped lawyers were awarded $20,400 each, a ruling that last week the Obama administration indicated it would appeal.

In another case, Attorney General Eric Holder said the department “specifically looked for a way to allow this case to proceed while carving out classified information, and ultimately concluded there was no way to do so.” As a candidate, Barack Obama had previously called the surveillance program “unconstitutional and illegal.”

Mobashir Ahmad

Feb. 24, 2011, 6:47 p.m.

Hypocrisy appears again and again in politics.  It is not leadership by example, or do as I do, but rather do as I say.  It is unfortunate when the greatest democracy in the world resorts to hide behind the State Secrets Protection Act, passed in January 2008.  It seems that our government is becoming less and less transparent and thus efficiency and injustice are apparent in every part of our government; which this SSPA greatly promotes-our degeneration towards idiocracy in government.  True, sometimes there are national secrets, which if divulged can be detrimental to our national interests, however, it seems that more and more of simple matters are being brought under the SSPA for the reasons mentioned and to hide corruption, inefficiency and mistakes that our government makes routinely.  It is strange to observe that it is now okay to have gays serve in the military, however, the basic rights of American citizens, such as unlawful detention, etcetera are now in fashion; how ironic.  President Obama supposedly came in to make our government and our system more transparent and along the way to get rid of Guantanomo Bay Prison, and the fact of the matter is that he hasn’t done either.  It just seems that there is indeed not much difference between Bush and Obama, other than in name and a very few actions of import.

So what do you think they threatened Obama with once he took office?  What did the intelligence community show him that turned his head around on the state secrets defense?  Or is he just another promise breaking pol?

Robert W. "Doc" Hall

Feb. 24, 2011, 6:52 p.m.

It’s not hard to see how having an open court hearing where evidence includes “state secrets” that may risk some agent’s life, or whatever, presents a real quandary. At a minimum, the general reasoning behind non-disclosure should be a matter of public record in a decision on each case. Where this reasoning can be withheld, it’s too tempting to use it to sidestep responsibility to a defendant and to the public.

All kinds of abuses and negligence are easy to hide behind the veil of competitive secrecy in the corporate world. The same is true of government agencies.

Obama has truly been a disappointment.  It seems the entire government needs to be replaced with people who have no experience in holding a public office.  I don’t think that it is a “state secret” that the government can not be trusted.  Which ever party has control will always just blame the other party for why their goals and promises weren’t fulfilled.  The political system we have now isn’t working.

Richard McDonough

Feb. 24, 2011, 11:25 p.m.

It is disheartening to find the man you thought to change things is either impotent or a cur.

To David Sutter:

You say that “the political system we have now isn’t working.”  Ah, but it is working beautifully—for power brokers, politicians, and big money interests.  It just isn’t giving us the kind of government Abraham Lincoln described in his Gettysburg Address, as being “of the people, for the people, and by the people.”

We have government OF the people, all right, but not FOR the people or BY the people.  In our country, government is for the rich and powerful and by the rich and powerful, and our two-party political system is a duopoly that sustains this plutocracy to the detriment of our country and its people.

As long as this situation exists, there can be no true democracy or even a democratic republic that truly represents the best interests of its citizenry.  It is indeed time for a drastic change—a change that we can still control—at the ballot box. 

Don’t fall prey to the propaganda and false promises politicians make in their multi-million dollar campaigns.  They are trying to manipulate voters into believing them and voting for them.  Look behind their claims and promises at public interest sites such as this, and then decide for yourself and not based upon distorted or misleading ads.

Maybe then we can get a more transparent government that doesn’t have to hide behind “state seccrets” to further their political agenda.

Someday in the not to distant future, people will look back on these decades of American self destruction and be amazed at the apathy and misdirected anger.  The pols have won.  Shilling for the wealthy and well-connected, they have demoralized this country, gutted the middle class, and set up a system that is accountable to no one but those few who pull the strings.  Now they use the courts to silence and bully those who might uncover the truth.  I’m sorry founding fathers.  You’d never recognize her now.

Will:

I couldn’t agree with you more.  When politicians get elected to office, their first priority is to do everything necessary to get re-elected.  Their second priority is to help their party.  Third is to help their financial backers, including the lobbyists who channel money into their campaigns from big special interest groups.  Last come the people who voted them into office.

We need to awaken the American voters to what is really going on in this country and shake them out of their apathy.  Once you get their attention, perhaps a good place to start is to address the presidential debates.  It is virtually impossible to get elected President if you cannot participate in the Presidential debates.  However, control of these debates was wrested away from the League of Women Voters in 1980 and are now totally under the control of the Republicans and the Democrats.  While the League was open to third-party candidates, the GOP and the Dems viewed that as a threat to their duopoly, and they kept changing the rules to keep them out.  As a result, Ross Perot, who got 19% of the vote in the 1992 election was barred from the debates in 1996.  And they al.so saw to it tha tRalph Nader would never be able to qualify either

A Fox poll in 2000 showed that 62% of Americans favored allowing third party candidates in the debates.  (After all, even Abraham Lincoln was a third-party candidate when he was elected President).  However, the Commission on Presidential Debates would not hear of any such thing.

In 2004, a group of civic leaders formed a Citizens’ Debate Commission that continues to gain backing throughout the country.  Their goal is to goal is to sponsor debates that serve the American people, and not just the two dominant political parties.

Perhaps this could be a first step to regaining power for the people.

DEMOCRACY ; B.C.

Excerpts from the introduction.
THE JUGURTHINE WAR
The senators were mainly a landed aristocracy, and were actually forbidden by law to engage in overseas commerce – although this law may often have been evaded.  Commerce, banking, contracts for public works, and later the business of tax-farming (for the state maintained only the barest skeleton of permanent officials), were in the hands of the non-senatorial class known as the Equestrian Orders, or Equites*.  The expansion of the empire greatly increased the wealth and importance of this class, and in the latter half of the second century B.C. they were trying to promote their interests still further by enlarging their political influence and obtaining a share of public administration. In course of time this led to a prolonged struggle between the Equites and the Senate.
In the preface to his Conspiracy of Catiline, Sallust has much to say of the contrast between the virtuous Romans of antiquity and the depravity of their successors.  No doubt he exaggerates it, like other preachers on similar themes.  But it is probable that the political calamities in the last century of the Republic did result to some extent from a deterioration in public and private morality, itself consequent upon the unprecedented opportunities of amassing wealth.  War booty, indemnities, overseas trade, money-lending, the proceeds of taxes and the profits of their collection, and sometimes the illegitimate gains of provincial administration, all contributed to the enrichment both of the state and of individual citizens.  There is evidence dating from the latter half of the second century B.C. of increasing extravagance and corruption among the ruling class at Rome, especially of direct and indirect bribery of the electorate.  The Senate voted more and more money for providing the lavish public games in which the Roman populace delighted, and the magistrates who presided over the festivals added to their magnificence by spending huge sums out of their own pockets on gladiatorial shows and other such spectacles.  Worse still, candidates for office resorted more and more as time went on to shameless bribery of electors, in spite of several laws which made this practice punishable.  Although the general standard of provincial government seems to have been satisfactory, there were some bad cases of governors who enriched themselves by conniving at illegal exaction on the part of tax-collectors; and to deal with such offences the fir4st permanent criminal court was instituted in 149 B.C. (quaestio de repetundis,i.e. a court of inquiry concerning the recovery of property wrongfully extorted).
Literally, “Cavalrymen” – originally men whose means enabled them to serve in the army as cavalrymen at their own expense.  But in the second century B.C. the Order included all men registered by the censors as having property sufficient to qualify them for such service, and not belonging to the Senatorial Order – i.e. men of substance who had not held a magistracy entitling them to membership of the Senate.  The required amount of property was probably laid down by law.

THE BEGINNING OF THE REVOLUTION
The first serious clash between the Senate and those who sought to challenge its effective control of government arose out of the economic situation in Italy.  There had been a time when most the country was farmed by smallholders.  But long periods of compulsory military service had resulted in many holdings’ being ruined by neglect, and the growth of large-scale agriculture had rendered it more difficult to make small farms pay – except for corn-growing in the more fertile areas.  Meanwhile, the land owned by the state (ager publicus), which had been much enlarged during the Hannibalic war by confiscations from disloyal communities, was leased out in big lots – not

Yes, until we get BIG BUSINESS out of our government, we will NEVER have government “of the people, for the people, or by the people.”  Every Senator, Congressman, Supreme Court Justice, etc. is in the pockets of Big Business, and they will kowtow to them everytime….the hell with the rest of us who actually voted them in (AND pay their bloated salaries).  Even the “simple man” can’t run for office unless they have big business to support them and put money into their campaign coffers!!  It isn’t going to get any better because big business has been given carte blanche to “buy” our government, and they basically already OWN it.

It is our system that is corrupt. In order for anyone in government to survive, the have to jump in bed with the Trolls. The Trolls have taylored the system to guarentee they will controll all that are in it.That includes everyone!!! What citizen can afford to spend the millions and millions to run or offiice? when was the last YOU gave to someones campaign? But the corporations give all day long, and they only give political paychecks NOT donations!! Just take a look at our Supreme Court Just Asses bought and paid for by the corporations. in the last 10 years 70% of their desisions have been against the citizens and for the corporate interests.  They are a band of crooks that ensure the Trolls controll all of us. My new favorite song is ‘Walk Like a Egyption” weather the brave citizens of Egypt win or loose at least they tried. And believe me the Trolls will be there in force to take their country. World Domination is the name of the game.

Robert Huddleston

Feb. 25, 2011, 4:51 p.m.

Government officials, both military and civilian, have long withheld, altered, and classifed documents to avoid a negative reaction especially from public exposure.  Sometimes this is done in the national interest; what Plato called the “Noble lie.”  Unfortunately, there are occasions where the aim is simply to cover-up malfeasance, misfeasance, an immoral act or simply to avoid exposure to official stupidity. In time, history catches-up and truth prevails, long, long, in the future. It is not a satisfying answer but it does reflect reality.

Didi:

Very well put!  We need to send a message to our elected representatives (at all levels, not just national) that we can no longer tolerate this plutocracy to which they have acquiesced for personal and political gain.

In a study done in 2007, it was revealed that the top 20% of our populations held 83% of the country’s wealth, leaving only 7% for the remaining 80% of the population.  (Incidentally, the top 1% of our population held 42.7% of the country’s financial wealth.)  When it comes to making political contributions to influence elections and/or legislation, we can be no match for them, but when it comes to the ballot box, they are no match for us, unless we fall for their phony campaign advertisements and propaganda.

If we could get half of the unregistered voters to register and vote, along with half of the independent voters, and to vote for anybody but the two dominating parties, we could send a very strong message throughout the country that just might awaken our elected representatives to the reality that we will no longer accept business as usual. 

Such a move might also awaken many of the discouraged and apathetic people who no longer even vote, because they realize that their votes don’t really matter that much when they are only selecting the lesser of two evils..

If this sort of thing could develop into a movement, we could have a very peaceful revolution at the ballot box and take back the country that belongs to the people and not to political machines.

Robert:

I think you are rightt that many of these items are classified not in the interest of national security, but as a cover-up for something that the people have a right to know, and therefore does not even qualify as a “noble lie.”

Even when history does catch up with these abuses, it is too little, too late.  The perpetrators have already gotten away with it, and their successors are likely doing the same thing, knowing that they can get away with it too.

.

James B. Storer

Feb. 26, 2011, 5:35 p.m.

Three recent Propublica reports, including this one, totally unrelated contextually, coincidently carried along a common characteristic.  The reports are ‘Supreme Court Considers Corporate Personhood Again” (Wang, Jan 19), “How I Passed my Citizenship Test…”  (Linzer, Feb 23), and “Invoking ‘State Secrets’:  Still The Status Quo?” (Wang Feb 24).  Each of these reports refers to inane actions by influential persons in the federal bureaucracy.  We expect these officials to be reasonably well educated and quite knowledgeable and capable of broad-based logical thinking and acting.
  “Corporate Personhood” reports the Third Circuit Court (Philadelphia), siding with AT&T, stating that corporations are capable of being embarrassed, harassed and stigmatized by public disclosures.  What are public disclosures supposed to do?  Write fairy tales?  The steady growth in power of Corporate Personhood is, in my mind, one of the most dangerous trends in our society, and the court system seems constantly to advance it.
  “...My Citizen Test…” reports some of the childish and irrelevant questions requiring answers by a person applying for U.S. citizenship.  It is criminal to subject a person who has worked for years to become a citizen to this sort of demeaning harassment.  My goodness, do I fail citizenship, perhaps, for not knowing who wrote the “Star Spangled Banner”?  This process is a ridiculous embarrassment, which one might think is a design by disciples of the infamous Senator Joe McCarthy.
  “Invoking ‘state secrets’...” is a difficult call, except that it is not.  Stamping objects secret for “national security” pretty well means permanent burial.  This carries no logic.  To me this means it is usually stamped secret to save an embarrassment to a department, individual or corporation.  There is truth, as in the comment (Feb 24) by Robert “Doc” Hall that an open court hearing including ‘state secret” might endanger and agent’s life (Or whatever).  However, as Mr. Hall then clearly states, the reasoning for such non-disclosure should be a matter of public record in each case.  Withholding this reasoning sidesteps responsibility to the public and defendant.  The permanency of retaining secret status for decades is disconcerting.  This creates an aura of Nazism.
  The “coincidence” I mentioned at the beginning as carried along in these three reports is the utter disclosure, accidentally or on purpose, of pervasive incompetence in upper levels of our government.
Skartishu
Granby MO

James Storer:

“We expect these officials to be reasonably well educated and quite knowledgeable and capable of broad-based logical thinking and acting.”

Absolutely right!  And if they don’t possess these qualities, they should be removed from their positions.

“... corporations are capable of being embarrassed, harassed and stigmatized by public disclosures.”

Well, then, they shouldn’t be doing those things that embarrass them and stigmatize them when they are made public.  And these are corporations with CEO’s making millions of dollars a year.

“The steady growth in power of Corporate Personhood is, in my mind, one of the most dangerous trends in our society ...”

You’re absolutely right.  It’s dangerous and outright scary that we have gotten to this point.

“... and the court system seems constantly to advance it.”

I thought it was downright scary when the SCOTUS was the deciding factor in the 2000 presidential elections.  Declaring corporations to be ‘persons’ is even scarier to me.  Our courts have become too political.  The judges need, more than anybody, to be totally free of any party or ideological affiliations.  And the justices need to recognize what the definition of ‘justice’ really is.

To me this (invoking state secrets) means it is usually stamped secret to save an embarrassment to a department, individual or corporation.
The honest fact is that, at the time something is classified as secret, we can never know for sure just why it is being classified as such and whether or not it is justified. 

At present, there appear to be no objective standards for declaring something secret .  I would like to see a high level seciruty review panel set up, somewhat like an appellate court, where all the members are cleared at the highest level of secrecy.  Nobody should be able to declare anything to be a state secret without arguing their case before this body.  I think that would cut down drastically on the number of items that are declared secret jus to cover up mistakes and incompetency.

I agree that there is a common thread that runs through all three examples you cited, and it is as you stated: “... pervasive incompetence in upper levels of our government.”

James B. Storer

Feb. 27, 2011, 2:55 p.m.

Jim Burgardt
    Without offering details (because I have none) I agree with your suggestion of placing an independent review panel in the process of requesting these “secret” stamps.  I believe such a panel must include the press.  Are you thinking of a jury (rotating) type of panel or a permanent one?
    The incompetence apparent in high levels of government reminds me of a book in the mid twentieth century:  The Peter Principle, by a Canadian sociologist, Laurence J. Peter.  His primary theory is that a hierarchical society tends to promote an employee to his first level of incompetence.  The employee is presently doing a bang up job and is the logical candidate for promotion.  Eventually he rises to his first level of incompetence, i.e. a job he cannot handle well.  He receives no further promotions, and continues in a job with which he is uncomfortable.
    I believe that the situation is a step more serious in our present society.  The incredibly continuous rapid growth of government gives us a situation rife with first level incompetence.  Partisanship, networking, etc. coupled with the rather long tenure of our nation provides us a government riddled with second level corruption and incompetence, vertically and horizontally, and especially at the upper levels.  We must untangle a very complicated mess.  Incidentally, I am greatly pleased with the rallying points furnished by Propublica.
  Skartishu
  Granby MO

James: 

An independent review panel for classifying “state secrets” could be set up and function many different ways.  We could probably exhaust this blog if we got into discussing all the possible alternatives and their ramifications. 

My first impression was a panel of about seven members drawn from various areas of expertise, perhaps including each of the three branches of government, defense/military, economics, the press (although I am not completely sure about this one), state and local government, and (somehow) someone directly representing the interests of the people at large. 

They would be assisted by legal and research staff, so that they wouldn’t have to be dependent upon their own limited resources or just upon the word of someone who wants something to be classified as a state secret.

I envisioned it more as an appellate court with limited, overlapping terms for the members, but I hadn’t even thought of it like a jury, which might work as well. 

This panel might have to act as “devil’s advocates” because there would be nobody presenting a case opposing the classification, unless they too had security clearances to have access to the information presented.  Citizen groups such a the ACLU, ProPublica, and other watchdog groups could present arguments opposing the proposed classification, but they would have to be bound by the rules of confidentiality, die to the potentially sensitive nature of the material being considered.

I remember The Peter Principle quite well.  I thought the concept was quite interesting.  And I agree that the present situation is a step more serious in our society.  In fact I might go so far as to term it as dangerous.  What we see in the political arena goes beyond the Peter Principle to cronyism.  Without naming names and stepping on toes, it appears that we have a lot of people who are working several levels above their level of competence..

I also agree with your comments about partisanship, networking, corruption and incompetence throughout our government, and especially at the higher levels.  This is where we absolutely need the highest level of competence.

Somehow, we need to get the American populace informed, interested, and involved.  Otherwise, we are just abdicating our responsibility and become just little pegs in a complicated machine run by and for the benefit of modern-day aristocrats.  The people become the lackeys for the people in power, with little that they can do, unless they band together for the common good.

James B. Storer

Feb. 28, 2011, 5:59 p.m.

Our consensus seems to be that we must corral incompetence, corruption and cronyism at all levels of our government.  It is a monumental challenge.  I believe that the ugly ‘state secret’, ‘national security’ (or by whatever name) process is high on our target list for starters among many of our citizens.  You’re most welcome idea of requiring a review panel with teeth and claws is necessary.  We need to apply calm and creative thought to this project.  In our haste to shout and scream at seemingly cruel and thoughtless acts in the romanticized international spy game, we miss the forest for the trees.
    Recently a story told of an agent with no cogent reason approves (rendition, think) of a man.  The prisoner is subject to torture and an investigation reveals that the woman approved the rendition, not upon proof, but upon a “hunch”.  Her promotion sometime later results in public outcry more, it seems, than the original unjust rendition approval.  I wish to comment a bit about this tragic sort of scenario.
    We have our FBI, CIA, and numerous other intelligence type organizations.  The U.S.S.R.  had its KGB, etc..  About every nation has its secret service, some primarily for intelligence gathering and others perhaps just to keep the top dog in power.  We intuitively tend to view the members of the foreign secret groups as composed of brutal beasts who relish torture when necessary.  I do not like to view our agencies in such a light, but cannot help but think there is something to “birds of a feather flock together.”
In other words, the person who hired our subject agent may be psychologically similar to the one who promoted her.  They see in her a characteristic (rendition on a hunch) they like or that does not worry them.  I may be overboard somewhat in my theory here, but I believe we may face a tough nut to crack or work with.
    On another matter, we discussed the increasing power of corporatism destroying the democratic voice of us, the citizen.  Another major factor against us is purely mathematical.  In 1912 it was decreed that the U.S. House be permanently fixed at 435 members.  Our Constitution provides very early in the document that representation is not to exceed one representative to thirty-thousand people as determined by census.  The fixed apportionment monster now gives a ratio of something like one representative per six-hundred-thousand citizens.  I am not a trained statistician, but I am confident that this ratio provides mathematically insignificant representation for the living breathing citizen.  It shifts all elective power in the federal government to large concentrations of money.

James:

Incompetence, Corruption, and Cronyism.

Yes, it is a monumental challenge, and it requires the action of Congress to go against itself, because any meaningful legislation they pass regarding this could come back to bite them.  Anything we might get them to do in this area would be very vague and easily circumvented, just as the vaunted campaign reform legislation has failed to provide any real reform.

The Ugly ‘State Secret’ Issue.

I don’t think you will ever get a sitting president in our lifetimes to sign legislation to control this unwarranted practice of protecting the guilty and incompetent.  Why would a person willingly give up power that he or she might some day need to protect himself or herself?  Personally, I think there needs to be a rebirth of integrity in our government before we could successfully pursue this issue successfully, though I would like to be wrong.

Promotion of the Incompetent Agent.

If there were more outrage at this person’ promotion than over the approval of the rendition itself, I think it could have been due to the cumulative effect.  I am sure that people were outraged at the use of this technique of torture.  However, it is quite logical for them to be extremely outraged at seeing this person get a promotion instead of punishment.  That was adding insult to injury..  And, maybe you are right n your thinking that the person who hired her should be looked at as well, to see it there is an established pattern of hiring people with a disregard for human rights.

Intelligence Organizations.

I can see a need for secrecy when it comes to the identity of intelligence-gathering agents and their covert.  However, we have all heard stories of attempts at assassination by some of our secret agents (or people hired by them).  We have even been complicit in the overthrow of several duly-constituted foreign governments.  My personal feeling is that this should not be done without Congressional and Presidential approval because I consider them to be acts of war.

“... we may face a tough nut to crack or work with.”

I totally agree, and that is why I think there are other things to be achieved be achieved that are more feasible, in the hopes that reform in this area could then follow.

“... the increasing power of corporatism destroying the democratic voice of us, the citizen.

Personally, this is my major concern overall.  The people have lost their power over the government.  The government is accountable only to itself.  The voice that is heard the loudest is that of money, and not the voice of reason.

House of Representative Membership.

You are right that our Constitution provides that representation in the House not exceed one representative to thirty-thousand people as determined by census.  You are also right that the membership in the House was later limited to 435 members.  That first statement does not require that there be one representative for each 30,000 citizens,  It only requires that there not be more than one per each 30,000.  If we were to have one representative for each 30,000 citizens today, we would have to have more than 10,000 members in the House of Representatives – obviously not a feasible number.  There must be a better way to get more direct representation for the people.

Most of the items above require action by our government.  What do you think are the chances of getting them to do anything that might take away any meaningful power they now possess?  Virtually nil.

I still think that our best option is the ballot box.  Rebel from the tendency to vote for incumbents.  In fact, I say rebel against voting for any Republican or Democrat.  We need to give them a good scare before they will pay any attention to us.

Maybe the larger third party organizations should form a coalition, perhaps a Unity Party, for the sake of breaking the stranglehold our present duopoly has on us.  Instead of running as Green Party, Libertarian, or American Independent candidates, for example, they could run as Unity Party candidates.  Then, maybe a lot of the independents and non-voting citizens will get interested in government again an come out to vote in support of this movement.

James B. Storer

March 2, 2011, 1:58 p.m.

Jim Burgardt.
    As regards your ‘comment’ yesterday, I am exceedingly grateful that you pointed out the gross error in phraseology concerning the 1912 limitation of the House membership.  The way I stated it would clearly indicate an unconstitutional decree.  The limit stated in the constitution states clearly that House membership cannot exceed one per thirty-thousand population, and not that it must total one per thirty-thousand as my rapid typing indicates.  The point is that the 1:30,000 is a somewhat good benchmark by the constitution, and I agree.
    If the one-to-thirty-thousand is operative today, we have a House of ten-thousand members.  As you indicate, this is an impossible situation.  We are in enough trouble with only the 435.  In the past I considered a series of elected sub- representatives attached to each of the 435.  I cannot really suggest a logical solution, but the point I am making is that we have no real elected representation today.
  I agree with you that complicit in “assassination,” and in the overthrow of governments by our agencies or their lackeys must be only with approval of Congress and the President.  Ah, perhaps your idea of the independent review panel should extend so far as to be included in such discussions.
  I agree with you that the major danger to our nation and democracy is rampant corporatism.
  Your idea of a strong coalition (“Unity” party, perhaps) is, I believe, the way to go.  Currently, all of our independent third party movement are generally independent of each other.  This attitude will never get the job done.  I have more to say on this but do not wish get to far off subject monopolizing large segments of this comment section so liberally provided by ProPublica.
Skartishu
Granby MO

James:

I agree with everything you said in your last post, and have very little additional to add, so there is no need for me to address any specific points.  I also agree that we have gotten far afield of the main subject of this particular discussion thread. There will undoubtedly be additional opportunities elsewhere to delve more deeply into the other subjects without abusing our privilege here.

I have enjoyed our discussion, and appreciate your thoughts and ideas.

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