Dick Cheney has been waging a quiet war against the United States of America for quite some time now. For several decades, although he moved in and out of positions of power, he could never really make a dent in the constitutional checks and balances inherent in our government. But over the last six years, he has won many battles and set back the Americans system of government significantly. But today, America struck back.
Since the Democrats won the Congress, Alberto Gonzales was forced to testify - under oath this time - about the illegal warrantless wiretapping program. He didn't want to lie under oath - I hear people get impeached for that type of thing. And the administration had already lost a case about their violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. And that was also up for appeal - where they would suffer another rebuke.
So, with the two other branches of government united against their abuse of power, the administration had to give in. They have promised to bring the government back into compliance with the law. There are many caveats to the administration's promise to follow the FISA law from now on, but this was still a historic victory for the rule of law. Score one for America.
Unfortunately, we're down significantly to Team Cheney. They still have the destruction of the writ of habeas corpus, the illegal detention of United States citizens, ghost detainees, extraordinary renditions, torture, signing statements and secret military tribunals on their side. That's a lot to overcome. We have to roll up our sleeves and get to work.
You see, Dick Cheney has never believed in the American system. He believes democracies are too soft. He has lobbied for a strong executive to take nearly complete power. Some call it the "unitary executive authority." Some call it an authoritarian form of government. You say tomato, I say to-ma-to. Take your pick.
Either way, the cult of authority has never trusted the American form of government.
Judges and juries can't be trusted. We must have secret detentions and secret trials.
We can't follow rules of evidence. We must allow hearsay and evidence obtained through coercion.
American interrogation procedures don't work. We must use torture.
American Congress can't be trusted to pass wise laws. We must use signing statements to say the president is above the law.
The American justice system doesn't work. We must declare US citizens, residents and anyone else we deem necessary "enemy combatants" and take them outside of the system, so that we can detain them indefinitely without trial or evidence or justice.
Justice is too important to be left to the American justice system.
The people who believe these things - Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, David Addington, John Bolton, etc. - are profoundly un-American. I don't include George W. Bush here because he is an irrelevant member of his own administration in this regard. His mind is so pitifully under-equipped for this ideological debate that it would be unfair to charge him with having knowledge of something he can hardly comprehend.
I think it's fair to say these ideologues hate the idea of America. They are not for an open society with fair rules that trusts its citizens to be fair and to police themselves. They have never believed in the American experiment.
When I say they hate America, I don't mean that they hate the people who live here or that they lack false patriotic vigor. I am sure they would say that they love the state of Nebraska and the good people of Alaska. They salute the American flag and some of them would even do battle for this country (though almost none of them have - given plenty of opportunities).
I mean that they philosophically never bought into the concept behind the country. America isn't a bunch of rocks that happen to be on a certain longitude and latitude. America isn't a bunch of people who happen to live in certain states between 1776 and 2007. America is a noble and grand idea. And it is that idea the Dick Cheneys of the world work hard to tear down every day. It is that idea that they do not trust, do not believe in and that they commit ideological treason against.
So, it appears now that the great American system is beginning to strike back. We have arisen from our slumber and find rascals in our midst. They have awoken a sleeping giant. The giant does not move quickly and it's sometimes slow to react, but once it moves it take giant leaps for mankind.
And when we move this country back into the light, we will show again that we are not so small that we can be taken down by petty men with old, antiquated ideas. The American system will win. And we will once again become a nation of laws, and not men.
We will show the world that we are bigger and better than the small men that lead us now. Their reign is temporary. The American system is for good. This is not a country that can be taken over by the authoritarians. We will not go the way of the tin-pot dictators. We will prevail. We will drag Dick Cheney out of the shadows and bring him into the light. The idea of America is too strong to be taken down by men of little faith.