By Tom Proebsting
May 30, 2006
President Eisenhower gave his farewell speech to the nation on January 17, 1961. He warned his listeners about the military-industrial complex, a monolith which rose out of the ashes of World War Two. Prior to the Second World War, the armaments industry was a temporary business. After the war, it became permanent, closely allied with the growing military establishment. Eisenhower warned of four possible problems related to it.
He advised that the military-industrial complex may lead to: the seizures of unauthorized power; an increase in lost powers; the endangerment of our liberties; and the imperilment of our democratic processes. Our generation is seeing these political travesties take place today, even as the military-industrial complex burgeons and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan rage on.
As an example of unauthorized powers, the White House wants the National Security Agency lawsuits nixed. The NSA was named in federal suits due to their involvement in the warrant-less wiretapping of telephone conversations of Americans. The administration's excuse was that intelligence was needed to help fight the War on Terror. President George W. Bush asked federal judges in New York and Michigan to nix the lawsuits, saying litigation would jeopardize state secrets. If the judges comply with the president, would this not be the use of unauthorized power on the president's part?
A fine example of lost powers is the recent case of the executive branch sending the FBI to the office of William Jefferson, Democratic congressman from Louisiana, in order to seize evidence from an alleged bribery scheme. Congressman Jefferson was purportedly being paid in exchange for helping set up business deals in some African nations. It's possible his move was seen by the administration as thwarting the War on Terror, as Africa is a key strategic player in world politics and rich in natural resources. Many of president Bush's critics state that this procedure violates the Constitution's separation of power protection, in Article 1, Section 6. Have congressmen lost this vital aspect and protection of the Constitution? Have the administration and the military-industrial complex decided to reduce the importance of separation of power?
A sterling example of the endangerment of our liberties can be traced back to the presidential elections of 2004 when anti-war protesters showed up at President Bush's rallies. The Secret Service and police did not allow the protesters close to the candidates, often keeping them at least a few blocks away. Any protester who managed to get closer and who exercised their freedom of speech to state their position on the War in Iraq was promptly removed from the immediate vicinity. The rights to assemble and petition were also stepped on during these shameful procedures that the administration ordered.
Finally, again using the story of congressman William Jefferson, the imperiling of our democratic processes was put to the test. President Bush, in an unprecedented move, ordered the evidence which was seized by the FBI to be sealed thus postponing possible filed charges and the right to a speedy and public trial. The evidence will be sealed for 45 days, putting the legal process in limbo. A delayed legal procedure can certainly be constituted as putting our democratic processes in danger.
Was President Eisenhower a prophet? I doubt it. He merely knew people, was well acquainted with the military, dealt much with the press, was familiar with the ways and goals of businessmen, and recognized the greed for power in politicians. I am surprised it took this long for his warnings to manifest.
About: Tom Proebsting is a writer and a blogger.
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