US Constitution

DATELINE: Friday, July 4, 2007. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow announced today that the President has asked Attorney General Gonzales to begin briefing the media on the New Order Constitution, which Snow explained would replace the current Constitution, streamline the nation’s laws and rationalize Administration actions.

“The President understands that the Constitution, written prior to 9/11 and the Global War on Terror, is out of date and needs to be harmonized with what we’re doing,” Snow explained.

“Four years ago, the President directed lawyers in the Defense and Justice Departments, now called The President’s Counsel, to undertake a thorough rewriting of the outmoded Constitution. The President also asked Vice President Cheney to begin declassifying select provisions of the New Order Constitution, which will be unveiled to the public as needed in coming months,” Snow said.

Asked why the entire New Order Constitution would not be declassified and released immediately, a White House counsel involved in the effort said “a national holiday is probably not the best time to roll out a new product.”

Not everyone agrees the new constitution should be disclosed. A Senior Administration Official, speaking anonymously to reporters added, “As Vice President, I don’t believe it is in our security interests to disclose the rules we follow. If the enemy learns what our limits are, they and Democratic members of Congress will exploit them to weaken our will to fight.”

Nevertheless, Firedoglake obtained a copy of several sections of the still secret Constitutition. These sections reveal changes Administration attorneys believe are needed to conform the outdated Constitution to the actions already taken by the White House.

Revisions to Article I. The oversight powers of Congress will be significantly restricted to minimize the risks that Congress might weaken the President’s terror authority by revealing embarrassing secrets during hearings. “Democrats who pursue this course are aiding al Qaeda’s agenda and undermining my authority,” the SAO said. A new provision will make clear that “Congress shall have the duty to declare war and fully fund” war efforts whenever the President requests.

Revisions to Article II. Officials said a new provision will clarify that the President has “unilateral authority in all matters relating to waging war on terror” and to “abrogate treaties affecting the treatment of unlawful combatants.” Other provisions will indicate that presidential “signing statements” have the force of law and must be recognized by the judiciary. Provisions relating to impeachment and removal from office will be deleted, one official said, “because no one has the courage to use them anymore.”

Revisions to Article III. Among other provisions, Courts would be bound by Presidential findings of “state secrets” and required to defer to the Executive on all matters related to national security. Another provision would strip the federal courts of jurisdiction to review Administration actions relating to the fight against terrorism and limit standing to bring suits against the government to those expressly sanctioned by The President’s Counsel.

Draft documents obtained by Firedoglake suggest the Administration is also considering changes to the “Bill of Rights.” Sources told FDL that Administration lawyers concluded early on that a substantial rewrite, and in some cases, outright repeal, of select provisions of the first Ten Amendments would be necessary. Drafts obtained by FDL indicate the following changes are being conisdered:

Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, provided, however, these provisions shall not limit the authority of the Executive.

Amendment IV: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The phrase “except in cases involving persons designated by the President as ‘enemy combatants’ or suspected unlawful immigrants” would be added to the language of Amendments V, VII and VIII. One official noted, “everyone agrees terrorists and aliens don’t deserve the same protections as law abiding Americans.”

Administration officials were asked to explain why the entire Fourth Amendment would be repealed. A senior official indicated, “given everything we’re doing under the President’s Terror Surveillance Programs, only some of which are known, there’s virtually nothing left, so why keep it?”