Tag Archives: Michael Chertoff

Supreme Court Stops Review of Executive Powers over Border Fence

When the Supreme Court refused to stop Secretary of Homeland Security today from ignoring more than 30 mostly environmental laws pertaining to the construction of the border fence with Mexico, the Court, in effect, gave Michael Chertoff’s plenary powers to Chertoff’s ‘waiver authority’ over the border.  By refusing to hear the case on the merits, the Court is also contributing to the Bush Administration’s growing legacy of eviscerating constitutional separation of powers and the rule of law.  In these waning days of the worst presidency ever, this case is yet another example of John Yoo’s failed unitary executive thesis in action

But alas, because the fence deals only with immigration law, long the unwanted stepchild of administrative law; with immigrants the demonized other in american politics since 9/11; and since it deals with only a border fence in a desolate part of Arizona/Senora (San Pedro Riparian National Conservation near Naco), few people will spend much ink condemning this nondecision, but condemnation is what this act today deserves.

But according to Oliver Bernstein, Sierra Club spokesperson,

“This decisions leaves one man—the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security—with the extraordinary power to ignore any and all of the laws designed to protect the American people, our lands, and our natural resources.” (NYT David Stout)

When any one human power has such power, that person is a sovereign– a monarchical tyrant who stand outside the rule of law. Such exceptions to constitutional norms should not be countenanced by the Court, and certainly not by the American people.  This is some, horrible legacy being left to the Bush successor and to the american people who will be forced to endure exceptions to constitutional norms tucked away in increasing numbers of of laws, regulations and policy.  


Border Residents Fight Back Against Surreal Border Fence Boondoggle

Two fine articles in Truthout this morning.

Cusack’s War, Inc.

Border Communities Sue

and one cool Youtube story (TYT) on the border fence

Border Fence story

In the first article, Jeremy Scahill writes abut John Cusack’s latest film War inc., a MASH-like social satire on the corporatization of the Iraq war.  The second article is about Peter Schey seeking a preliminary injunction at the border for border towns suing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Bush Administration over construction of the border fence, which is being built in an illegal, arrogant and stupid way. 

The border spectacle connects both articles because Cusack’s War, Inc., could easily have a sequel called, The Border, Inc. Same patterns, different locale.

The Texas lawsuit argues that Bush is making unconstitutional use of eminent domain by building the fence on the property of dozens of border residents, some of whom have had the land in their families for more than 250 years since receiving a land grant from the spanish viceroy.  DHS is forcing people off their land without consultation, providing just compensation or fair process.

Not only is Michael Chertoff and Bushco cavalierly disregarding the constitution, they are doing so to advance the interests of Boeing, its subsdiary– Power Contracting, and Republican donors Sundt Construction, and Kiewit Brothers.  Sundt is known for having built the secretive Los Alamos, and Kiewit built the secretive NSA facility at Fort Gordon.  Since the Army Corps of Engineer contracts with these companies could be revoked upon the inauguration of a new president, the administration is in a  mad rush to finish doling out contracts and sinking financial,  administrative infrastructure costs before the end of the year, personal and public property be damned. 

Consider this. Bushco is not even eviscerating the constitution for its own misguided principles: unitary executive or other wacko, unconstitutional neocon stuff, but rather, it is using its unitary powers thesis to advance the cause of its corporate cronies, buds, donors, and friends.  Payola and Payback on the most grotesque scale.

And once again, livelihoods and human lives are disregarded along the way.


The Bush-Chertoff Coup at the Mexican Border

When Congress enacted the Real ID Act in 2005, few people appreciated just how radical a piece of legislation this was. Yes, it introduced a drivers’ license data base that many folks astutely compare to a national ID card.  It also threatens to create havoc on the roadways by denying undocumented immigrant drivers a chance to get a drivers license and insurance which comes in handy in case of a car wreck.  Real ID also incongruously included provisions that would strip the federal courts of jurisdiction over immigration matters, which creates a damning tilt toward unfettered executive powers over immigrants.  

I thought all this qualified Real ID as one whopping, dangerous piece of law.  But just today,  additional horrors of Real ID were revealed: a coup at the border.

It was announced that section 102 of the Real ID Act provides the justification DHS Secry Chertoff says he needs for DHS to waive about 36 existing (mostly environmental and land management) laws enacted by Congress that pertain to DHS efforts to construct a border fence (18 foot steel and concrete) along the US-Mexico border from California to Texas.

As of today, the rule of law, and separation of powers no longer apply to the DHS’s SBInet efforts to construct a border industrial complex.  The rule of law would take too long, Chertoff suggested today,  and would slow efforts to stop “illegal immigration,” an occurrence ongoing since the 1848 Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo, and regulated since the 1924 creation of the US border patrol.  According to Chertoff, “Criminal activity at the border does not stop for endless debate or protracted litigation.”

As reported in the Earth Times, Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife laments:

“Thanks to this action by the Bush administration, the border is in a sense more lawless now than when Americans first started moving west….”Laws ensuring clean water for us and our children — dismissed. Laws protecting wildlife, land, rivers, streams and places of cultural significance — just a bother to the Bush administration. Laws giving American citizens a voice in the process — gone. Clearly this is out of control.” 

How to make sense of the border coup?  I suggest considering the following: 1) the clock is ticking on an Administration whose border control policies have sucked as much as its other failed neo-con policies . 2) Abiding the rule of law is time consuming.  3) Bush’s unitary executive power theory suggests he need not so limit himself to the rule of law;  4) Bush business cronies at Boeing, the recipient of the $67 million contract to build the failure of a virtual fence project, also provides the steel for the physical fence, and along with several other SBInet firms, Boeing manages, oversees (itself a shameless contradiction) and consults on the construction of the physical border fence and other SBInet activities.  Getting the fence in the ground before the next Administration takes over is the surest way to avoid cancellation of this projected $49 billion fence boondoggle.

Who wins?   Boeing and other Bush corporate cronies (SBInet firms) and remaining neo-cons who still wrongly insist 9/11 hijackers crossed the border. 

Who loses?  all law abiding citizens; all people who believe in the constitution; all border residents, particularly land owners of mostly modest means; all immigrants

In addition to all adherents of the rule of law, the most immediate losers here include all the American people who collectively are proprietors of the national and state park lands, and wildlife preserves (including the San Pedro River in Arizona) that are going to be destroyed by the fence. In addition,  DHS is forcibly removing individual middle class and poor families who own property along the targeted path of the coming fence.  The govt. has already sued more than 50 property owners in South Texas to gain access to the land.  Now, DHS no longer need wait out such nuisances as damage assessments, court hearings and other due process entanglements.