By: Rowan Wolf of Uncommon Thought Journal
The politicians are back in Washington for a flurry of activity before the mid-term elections, and Bush is out stumping for funds and to reinforce GOP tactics. While we could sit back and say that all the activity is for show, it is critical to remember that the Republicans might lose control of the House – and possibly the Senate. Such a shift in power would dramatically effect the overall agenda of the neoconservatives and the Bush administration. Therefore, the direction of the flurry of activity in Washington and Bush’s “messages” to the public, take on great significance.
It had been expected by many the Congress (for better or worse) would address the immigration issue. However, those efforts seem to have been tabled. Instead, the agenda has shifted to “the war on terrorism” and national “security.”
Despite a report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee (Postwar Findings on Iraq’s WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism – pdf) that concludes that there was no connection between Hussein and Al Qaeda, and WMD reports were not substantiated, Bush and the administration are still trying to imply that there was such a link. Further, that Iraq is central in the “war on terrorism.”
Bush has now publicly admitted the existence of CIA “black” prisons with the movement of 14 prisoners to Guantanamo for detention and “trial.” That “trial” is supposedly a military tribunal, which has already raised controversy and been ruled unconstitutional. Of course it also begs the question of closing the Guantanamo facility.
Meanwhile, Bush has pushed for new legislation to legalize interrogation techniques that are torture under US, Military, and International standards. Bush has also asked for new legislation to expand his authority on wiretapping. Bush’s use of wiretaps without a FISA warrant has also been ruled to be illegal, but the administration is appealing that decision.
One could argue that the current strategy is to play to what has been politically successful for Bus and the Republicans in the past – the politics of fear. However, the pressure is on to constitutionally expand the power of the President, and to constitutionally embrace questionable practices, while the Republicans still hold the House and Senate. Once formal legislation is passed and signed by the President, it is very difficult to revoke. This makes the push on legislation at this point highly significant.
So, the key areas of the current legislative session include expansion of Presidential authority, abridgement of Constitutional rights to privacy and protections, and detention and trials for those suspected as “terrorists.” Additionally, legislative initiatives are underway to amend the war crimes act and thereby lessen the possibility that the administration and Bush would be prosecuted under existing law. Facing a potential shift in Congressional power makes all of these areas critical to the White House. No wonder immigration is taking a back seat.