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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Are you scared yet?

Remember that executive order about "Continuity of Government" that Dubya issued back in May? The one that put the prez in charge of running the government after a massive terrorist attack or other major disaster? And which gave the prez the authority to determine just what constitutes a major disaster?

If you're like this magpie, that executive order made you a bit nervous about the future of constitutional government in the US, and just a bit suspicious about the prez's motives. And I'll bet you weren't all that reassured when 'common wisdom' said that Dubya's executive order was just a routine housekeeping measure.

Here in Oregon, some people were sufficiently worried about the executive order that they asked US representative Peter DeFazio to look into whether anything sinister was lurking in order's classified portions, which describe in detail how the executive branch would run the government after a major disaster. DeFazio asked the White House to have those classified portions delivered for viewing in a special secured room at the Capitol building — a request that he's definitely entitled to make as a member of the House's Homeland Security Committee. After initially giving the nod to DeFazio's request, something — no one knows what — changed at the White House, and permission to see the classified documents was withdrawn.

A good case could be made that the White House's refusal of DeFazio's request is just another example of the Dubya/Cheney regime's penchant for secrecy. Or maybe it's just another case of the prez giving Congress the finger. But maybe the reason that the White House doesn't want these documents to be seen by anyone outside the prez's immediate circle is that there is something sinister hidden in Dubya's executive order.

Indulge this magpie's paranoia for a moment and consider: Dubya's domestic political problems continue to get worse and his popularity is showing signs of dropping below Nixonian levels. The Iraq occupation is not going well. Congress is beginning to shine some light on the dark and illegal deeds that have taken place under Dubya and Cheney's watch. Almost half the country supports the impeachment of Dubya, and even more support impeaching Cheney.

In the midst of this political environment, consider the timing of Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff's recent 'gut feeling' that the US is in danger of a terrorist attack this summer. And, finally, reconsider the fact that the White House doesn't want a member of Congress to see documents that explain how a president — Dubya, for example — will run the goverment in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.

Taking all of that into account, don't the phrases 'suspending the constitution' and 'executive coup d'etat' sound less like stuff that belongs only in the ramblings of paranoid conspiracy theorists and a bit more like possibilities that we all should be concerned about?

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