a long time ago, some friends of mine and i decided that we were going to secede from the united states and form our own country, Normidia, which would be 500 yards surrounding wherever we were. inside Normidia, all US laws would be null and void, and, instead, the laws of the Principality of Normidia would be obeyed. this meant, among other, significantly less important things, that we could smoke pot with impunity, regardless of where we were, as cannabis was not illegal, but was actually the official currency of Normidia – as in the Illuminatus trilogy, we traded in hempscript.

as the years went by, we developed the country even further. we had a flag, a coat of arms, an official state religion, a constitution, and even a bill of rights. as princes of Normidia, we were able to recruit a number of citizens of Normidia, but as the country was defined as existing within a 500 yard radius from wherever we were at the moment, we were unable to do much more than that. then one of us died, and another one was lost to the ravages of alcohol (the last time i heard about where he lived, he was staying at the shetler for homeless drunks in a small town near the canadian border), and the only one left was me… and i’m considering reviving Normidia, especially after reading this:

Executive Branch Secedes from the Union
by Devilstower
March 24, 2007

When Tony Snow made the rounds of talk shows this week, some might have been surprised at his message.

Snow to CNN: “There’s another principle, which is Congress doesn’t have the legislative — I mean oversight authority over the White House.”

Snow to NBC: “Congress doesn’t have any legitimate oversight and responsibilities to the White House.”

Snow to NBC: “First, the White House is under no compulsion to do anything. The legislative branch doesn’t have oversight.”

Snow to ABC: “The executive branch is under no compulsion to testify to Congress, because Congress in fact doesn’t have oversight ability.”

Just in case you missed it the first time, Snow repeated himself to make sure the public gets the message: the White House has declared itself, a law unto itself, beholden to no other authority. This goes quite a bit beyond the already massive expansions of “executive privilege” previously claimed by this administration.

Congress has the enumerated authority under the constitution to pass laws, to raise a military, to declare war, and to impeach and remove members of the executive branch. Does the word “oversight” appear? It doesn’t, but it’s so clearly implied in the powers designated to Congress that there’s been really little doubt of this power since 1787. The Supreme Court has agreed with Congress’ role in overseeing the White House on any number of occasions. After all, how can Congress have impeachment authority over the executive if any investigation can be stonewalled by an uncooperative administration? The judicial equivalent would be making a defendant the judge at his own trial.

Under the Snow interpretation, the executive could get away with anything. Anything at all. Absolutely anything. Like Tony, I wanted to repeat so you would be sure I meant what I said. A lack of congressional oversight would not just place the White House above the law, but completely beyond it.

Though it may have passed as just another incidence of Snow being trotted forth to distribute the day’s right wing talking points, what was said on Friday should not go without notice. This is the single more amazing declaration in an administration that has already produced more extraordinary claims than the fountain at Lourdes.

For the last forty years, there has been only a single Republican administration. That may seem an odd idea. After all, at least a couple of Republicans have been elected over that period — and a couple more have found their way to the White House through other means. No matter the name on the Oval Office door, the philosophy promoted by the White House has remained. This the Imperial Presidency of Richard M. Nixon, now brought to inglorious summer by the (adopted) son of Crawford. It was under Nixon that the philosophy of a supreme executive was gestated. It was under Nixon that the men who populate the current administration were taught their love for tyranny over justice. From Watergate, to Iran-Contra, to Iraq, Nixon’s heirs have worked to chisel away the rule of law. With Snow’s blunt declaration of independence, any remaining illusion that the executive branch continues to act as part of the government is removed. If this interpretation holds, if the congress can not exert authority over the executive, then we are a democracy in name only.

In a high school history book, the fall of the Roman Republic is usually dated to the point were Julius Caesar, in defiance of Senate “micromanagement,” ordered his legions across the Rubicon to end effective representative oversight. However, at the time, the Romans didn’t see it that way. They continued to call themselves a republic for years. Decades. Long after Caesar, they kept up the hollow pretense of a senate, marching in each day to pass laws that the executive of their day did not follow, and direct armies that moved only at the emperor’s command.

The Bush administration is waist deep in the Rubicon. The only question now is whether we will drive them back to the bank, or admit that we are only play-acting at democracy.

Operation Bite: April 6 sneak attack by US forces against Iran planned, Russian military sources warn
By Webster G. Tarpley
26 March, 2007

WASHINGTON DC, — The long awaited US military attack on Iran is now on track for the first week of April, specifically for 4 am on April 6, the Good Friday opening of Easter weekend, writes the well-known Russian journalist Andrei Uglanov in the Moscow weekly “Argumenty Nedeli.” Uglanov cites Russian military experts close to the Russian General Staff for his account.

The attack is slated to last for 12 hours, according to Uglanov, from 4 am until 4 pm local time. Friday is the sabbath in Iran. In the course of the attack, code named Operation Bite, about 20 targets are marked for bombing; the list includes uranium enrichment facilities, research centers, and laboratories.

The first reactor at the Bushehr nuclear plant, where Russian engineers are working, is supposed to be spared from destruction. The US attack plan reportedly calls for the Iranian air defense system to be degraded, for numerous Iranian warships to be sunk in the Persian Gulf, and for the most important headquarters of the Iranian armed forces to be wiped out.

The attacks will be mounted from a number of bases, including the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Diego Garcia is currently home to B-52 bombers equipped with standoff missiles. Also participating in the air strikes will be US naval aviation from aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, as well as from those of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. Additional cruise missiles will be fired from submarines in the Indian Ocean and off the coast of the Arabian peninsula. The goal is allegedly to set back Iran’s nuclear program by several years, writes Uglanov, whose article was reissued by RIA-Novosti in various languages, but apparently not English, several days ago. The story is the top item on numerous Italian and German blogs, but so far appears to have been ignored by US websites.

Observers comment that this dispatch represents a high-level orchestrated leak from the Kremlin, in effect a war warning, which draws on the formidable resources of the Russian intelligence services, and which deserves to be taken with the utmost seriousness by pro-peace forces around the world.

Asked by RIA-Novosti to comment on the Uglanov report, retired Colonel General Leonid Ivashov confirmed its essential features in a March 21 interview: “I have no doubt that there will be an operation, or more precisely a violent action against Iran.” Ivashov, who has reportedly served at various times as an informal advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is currently the vice president of the Moscow Academy for Geopolitical Sciences.

Ivashov attributed decisive importance to the decision of the Democratic leadership of the US House of Representatives to remove language from the just-passed Iraq supplemental military appropriations bill that would have demanded that Bush come to Congress before launching an attack on Iran. Ivashov pointed out that the language was eliminated under pressure from AIPAC, the lobbing group representing the Israeli extreme right, and from Israeli Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni.

“We have drawn the unmistakable conclusion that this operation will take place,” said Ivashov. In his opinion, the US planning does not include a land operation: “ Most probably there will be no ground attack, but rather massive air attacks with the goal of annihilating Iran’s capacity for military resistance, the centers of administration, the key economic assets, and quite possibly the Iranian political leadership, or at least part of it,” he continued.

Ivashov noted that it was not to be excluded that the Pentagon would use smaller tactical nuclear weapons against targets of the Iranian nuclear industry. These attacks could paralyze everyday life, create panic in the population, and generally produce an atmosphere of chaos and uncertainty all over Iran, Ivashov told RIA-Novosti. “This will unleash a struggle for power inside Iran, and then there will be a peace delegation sent in to install a pro-American government in Teheran,” Ivashov continued. One of the US goals was, in his estimation, to burnish the image of the current Republican administration, which would now be able to boast that they had wiped out the Iranian nuclear program.

Among the other outcomes, General Ivashov pointed to a partition of Iran along the same lines as Iraq, and a subsequent carving up of the Near and Middle East into smaller regions. “This concept worked well for them in the Balkans and will now be applied to the greater Middle East,” he commented.

“Moscow must exert Russia’s influence by demanding an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to deal with the current preparations for an illegal use of force against Iran and the destruction of the basis of the United Nations Charter,” said General Ivashov. “In this context Russia could cooperate with China, France and the non-permanent members of the Security Council. We need this kind of preventive action to ward off the use of force,” he concluded.

ITT fined $100 million for illegal exports
Manufacturer admits to exporting night vision materials to China, Singapore and Britain without U.S. authorization.
March 27 2007

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The leading manufacturer of night vision gear for the Defense Department has admitted sending classified materials overseas and will pay a $100 million penalty, according to federal prosecutors, who say the actions of ITT Corp. have jeopardized the security of U.S. soldiers.

ITT, based in Roanoke, Va., exported classified or sensitive technical data to China, Singapore and Britain without having obtained authorization from the United States, prosecutors said.

The conviction is the first involving a major defense contractor violating the Arms Export Control Act, prosecutors said.

Saying that American soldiers are “the principal victims of ITT’s crimes,” U.S. Attorney John Brownlee said he has structured the $100 million penalty so that half of the money is spent by ITT to develop a next-generation night vision system and “ensure that our soldiers have the best night vision equipment in the world.”

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ITT must invest the $50 million over five years to accelerate development of night vision technology, and the government will maintain rights to all technology that is developed under the agreement.

The arrangement will also allow the government to share any technology developed by ITT under the agreement with ITT’s competitors, Brownlee said.

Prosecutors said the probe began Aug. 1, 2001, when Defense Department investigators discovered that ITT night vision employees sent a classified military document to Britain.

The company engaged in a “regular pattern of export violations and misrepresentation” to the U.S. government from 1980 to 2005, prosecutors said.

In some cases, information was transferred because the manufacture of laser gear could be done cheaper overseas.

ITT “went to significant lengths to set up an end run” around State Department licensing systems, prosecutors said, including enlisting a front company to export the systems.

The company also fought the government’s investigation, Brownlee said, and attempted “to essentially run out the clock on the statute of limitations.” He said the company’s posture changed in 2005 with the hiring of a new CEO, Steven Loranger, who hired new outside corporate attorneys and instructed the company to cooperate with the investigation.

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ITT Corp., whose competitors include Lockheed Martin (up $0.08 to $98.50, Charts) and United Technologies (down $0.34 to $66.07, Charts), has agreed to plead guilty to a count of violating the Arms Export Control Act by illegally sending classified and/or export-controlled information relating to night vision materials to foreign countries. It also will plead guilty to a count of knowingly or willfully omitting material facts from required reports with intent to obstruct a State Department investigation.

As part of the $100 million penalty, ITT will pay a $2 million criminal fine and a $50 million deferred prosecution penalty – to be invested in night vision technology – and will forfeit $28 million to the U.S. government as the proceeds of its illegal actions. ITT will also pay a $20 million penalty to the State Department.