Bureaucrats Get Emails: "Constitution Day"
All Department of Commerce employees received this email on Friday, September 15:
MEMORANDUM FOR ALL COMMERCE EMPLOYEES
In December 2004, the President established September 17 of each year as a day in which we take time to celebrate the framing of our Constitution. On September 17, 1787, the U.S. Constitution was signed and the course of our Nation's history was changed. This year, our celebration will occur on Monday, September 18, 2006.
When delegates of the Constitution Convention met behind closed doors during a hot Philadelphia summer, their goal was to establish a new form of government that ensured justice and protection of all citizens from internal strife and outside attack. The framers wanted to create a national government that was effective, but that did not infringe upon the rights of the individual or the states. After heated debate, on September 17, 1787, 39 signers ensured the successful future of our country.
History has proven that our Founding Fathers were successful. Our Constitution remains the oldest written national constitution still in effect. Unlike most national constitutions that define the rights of the people, our Constitution is a document in which "We the People" define the role and limits of the government. The powers not expressly given to the Federal Government are reserved for the people and the states.
Our 219 year-old Constitution continues to work well today, even though many signers had some doubt. While more than 11,000 amendments to the document have been proposed by Congress over the last two centuries, only 33 amendments have gone to the states to be ratified. To date, our Constitution has been amended only 27 times. And the first ten of these amendments became known as our "Bill of Rights." We continue to benefit from the far-seeing wisdom of the Bill of Rights, the separation of powers, the access to our courts, our right to criticize, and our right to freely practice our religious beliefs.
With the recent marking of the tragedies that occurred on September 11, 2001 – this is a perfect time for us to stop and celebrate the precious freedoms that this document and this country provide all of us. To celebrate Constitution Day within the Department of Commerce, a broadcast e-mail will identify additional informational sources available to you regarding the history of our Constitution. Please take a moment of your time to review this information, become more familiar with this important document, and share this information with your co-workers, friends and family.
As Federal employees, we should set an example by being among the most knowledgeable individuals on the history of our Constitution. We should appreciate the role the Constitution has played in our history, providing us with the freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Through political change, social transformation, and economic challenge, this document is a reminder of the power of ideas, and how "We the People" can make a huge difference.
I agree with this email wholeheartedly. The importance of the Constitutional guarantees of our rights is more important than ever in the wake of the attacks on that clear blue Tuesday five years ago.
This Administration would further erode the Fourth Amendment's "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects" with its attendant requirement that "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." Not being satisfied with the FISA law that gives it the authority to wait until after the wiretapping has been done before obtaining the warrant, it has defended what it regards as its authority to abandon warrants entirely. It seeks laws that would give it "program warrants" to authorize such surveillance for an entire program at once, with no 'particular description' of what it is looking for, and where.
It has long since abandoned any pretense of honoring the Sixth Amendment's protection of the right to a speedy trial, and has done its best to hide trials of suspected terrorists from public view, to deny the defendants access to the evidence against them, and so forth.
And we know how this Administration feels about cruel and unusual punishment.
And rather than defending the idea that "unlike most national constitutions that define the rights of the people, our Constitution is a document in which 'We the People' define the role and limits of the government," this Administration clearly believes that the Executive Branch can do pretty much what it wants, running roughshod over even the specifically enumerated rights of the people.