Benjamin, Aaronson, Edinger & Patanzo, P.A.

Patriot Act

While most of us were concerned about the war on terror, the administration with little opposition from the Republican controlled Congress passed the Patriot Act.  By its name, any opposition to that Act was heralded as unpatriotic.  But only now is it coming to light the true purpose of the Patriot Act.  Sure, there were provisions in there that might actually help prevent terrorism occurring here in the United States, but by and large the Act was nothing more than a power grab by the Executive Branch of government, controlled by the Republicans, to usurp the powers of the other two branches of government and to make George W. “King” George.

Throughout the country there are United States Attorneys for the various U.S. districts across the country.  For example, in the State of Florida there are United State Attorneys for the Southern, Middle and Northern Districts of Florida.  Some states have only one U.S. Attorney for the entire state.  The process  normally to have a U.S. Attorney or to be selected as a U.S. Attorney is such: The President nominates the U.S. Attorney and the Senate confirms that U.S. Attorney.  Without Senate confirmation the U.S. Attorney cannot take office.  When the situation occurs where a U.S. Attorney resigns, is fired, or must be replaced for medical reasons, the President selects the replacement with the approval of the United States District Court Judge from that district, until a permanent replacement can be nominated and confirmed by the Senate.

In the Patriot Act, and why its in this Act cannot be explained, a little known and overlooked provision was put in.  The provision allows the President to appoint a U.S. Attorney for a District should there be a vacancy.  There is no approval needed by the Senate or by a District Court Judge.  But rather, this temporary replacement can stay for an unlimited time, thereby circumventing the Senate having any say in the approval of a permanent U.S. Attorney since the temporary U.S. Attorney could stay forever.

This provision, thereby allows the President to usurp the Constitution and years and years judicial protocol established in this country.  It allows, a President such as George W. Bush, to fire U.S. Attorneys at his whim or ask for their resignation, so that he can replace them with people who are not scrutinized by the Senate, who do not have proper qualifications or credentials, and who are no more than political hacks.

Such is the case of what is going on in the country right now.  At least five U.S. Attorneys have been asked to give their resignations.  From reports, their only indiscretions, were to have been that they were honest and were willing to indict corrupt governmental officials who are caught with their hands in the till.  For example, the United States Attorney who prosecuted “Duke” Cunningham the congressman from California who accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation from defense contractors has been asked to resign.  In Arkansas, the U.S. Attorney who also was investigating public corruption was asked to resign and has been replaced by a political operative from the Republican party.

In this manner, our current administration is trying to stifle investigations into public corruption on the Republic side by replacing those who would seek out that corruption and prosecute it, with others who will turn a blind eye.  Further it is a warning to other U.S. Attorneys that if they should want their jobs, then public corruption should be on the back burner, especially if it deals with Republican corruption.

Even if we take these actions out of the Democrat v. Republican analysis, and strictly frame it in an Executive Branch v. Legislative Branch situation, or we throw in the Judicial Branch, the essence of this part of the Patriot Act is to give the Executive Branch power by taking away the powers of the Legislative Branch and the Judicial Branch.  This grab for power by the Executive Branch is another in a long line of power grabs by this administration to set up an Executive Branch that is supreme to the other branches of government thereby destroying the checks and balances that have insured this country’s democracy for over two hundred years.

Alone this would be scary.  When you piggyback it onto over four years of the Executive Branch listening to phone calls of its citizens without warrants for wiretapping, again under the name of national security,  the holding of detainees including American citizens suspected as terrorists, without trial for over five years, and legislation that suspends habeas corpus (produce the body or in English terms everybody has the right to go before a Judge), what we have is an Executive Branch that does not follow the rule of law, the Constitution or believe it is bound by the same.

It is time that the Democratic controlled House and Senate fight back for the American people.  It is time these abuses by King George get redressed.  It is time that our Congress flexed its muscles and reaffirm that it is a co-equal branch of government and not one subservient to the would be dictator who sits in the Oval Office.  And yes, it is also time that the Judicial branch of government assert itself also as a co-equal branch of government.

Unfortunately, with the stacking of the Courts, including the United States Supreme Court with political ideologs who believe in a strong king, our judiciary may have been tampered with for a long time to come.  In any event, the only rights that we are entitled to are ones that we are willing to fight for and it is time that the American people through their representatives in Congress demand  those rights back and tell our Congress that we are willing to fight for them.

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