Letter from the Editor 

Indulge me in a little paranoia, if you will.

This week, the Bush administration announced it was creating a new plan for dealing with a catastrophic emergency in the U.S. It gives the president broad authority to take over disaster recovery from state officials and empowers federal authorities to provide "appropriate support" to the vice president to orchestrate post-attack recovery.

Details of the plan have not been released, of course. That would mean the American people would have some idea of just how far-reaching this directive is. And we can't have that, now can we? Congressman Peter DeFazio of Oregon, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the White House rejected his request to review the secret portions of the plan. Of course. That would allow our elected representatives to have some idea of just how far-reaching this plan is. We can't have that, now can we?

This administration has a clear track record of flouting the law, whether it's breaking the Geneva Conventions, outing a CIA agent, manipulating military intelligence, abusing presidential "signing statements," firing U.S. attorneys without due cause and lying about it, or ignoring subpoenas from Congress.

They've done their utmost to create an imperial presidency, claiming powers for our chief executive that were never intended by our Founding Fathers. The question I keep asking myself is, Why? Sure, in the short term, it allows them to get away with almost anything, but looking down the road to, say, a Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama presidency, you would think they would quake at the very idea of such powers in Democratic hands.

Unless they know something we don't. And, I admit, this is where paranoia strikes deep. The entire Bush presidency is based on the fallout from 9/11. In the aftermath of that tragedy, the administration began accumulating its power, and it hasn't stopped. Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff said recently he had a "hunch" we'd be attacked again.

I have a hunch that if such a thing happens, we'd better be prepared to defend our republic — from every direction.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

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