Wednesday, October 18, 2006
A New Day is Dawning... And America is YAWNING.
So, if you haven't been paying attention, forget it and go back to sleep... but while we freak out over Mark Foley's emails, the basic foundation of social justice in a civilized society has been ripped out from under us by a despotic regime. Of course, there's no outrage, because we're living in a plastic dreamworld of paranoia and social retardation. Bush just turned the US into a Despotic Police State.
As Sherman Edwards asks through his plaintive lyrics in the musical "1776":
"IS ANYBODY THERE?? DOES ANYBODY CARE??"
Read on if you're so inclined.
Bush Betrays Democracy and Truth in Signing Military Commissions Act
by Matthew Rothschild
George Bush just signed the 'Military Commissions Act,' the bookend to the Patriot Act on the shelf marked “Assault on Democracy.”
It allows the President himself to decide what is covered by Geneva Conventions, and what is not.
In short, it gives the President a green light to torture.
Bush, with his usual flare for falsehood, said it “will allow the Central Intelligence Agency to continue its program for questioning key terrorist leaders.”
But this isn’t about questioning them. It’s about torturing them. It’s about subjecting them to such things as waterboarding, a medieval instrument of sadism.
Bush repeated that “the United States does not torture. It’s against our laws, and it’s against our values.”
But he knows full well that the CIA used waterboarding against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and he even cited Mohammed by name to justify the continued use of the CIA “program.”
Bush also asserted, falsely, that the Military Commissions Act will enable the United States to prosecute captured terrorists “through a full and fair trial.”
It will permit secret evidence, hearsay evidence, and even coerced testimony.
With this new law, Bush can have the CIA torture someone into a confession, and then use that confession against the person at trial.
In fact, the person can be executed on the basis of testimony that was beaten out of him.
In his statement, Bush also completely avoiding mentioning one of the most egregious aspects of the Military Commissions Act: the stripping of habeas corpus protection that has been enshrined since the days of the Magna Carta and codified in the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. “What this bill will do is take our civilization back 900 years,” warned Senator Arlen Specter, when he tried to amend the bill by restoring habeas corpus. (When it failed, 51-48, Specter inexplicably turned around and voted for the bill.)
The Military Commissions Act authorizes the President of the United States to designate anyone—foreigner or citizen alike—as an “enemy combatant.” He can then detain this enemy combatant indefinitely, and if that person is not a U.S. citizen, that person has no recourse whatsoever.
“No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination,” the new law states.
This gives the President “the privilege of kings,” as Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, has noted. But Bush doesn’t want you to care about such little things.
“Over the past few months, the debate over this bill has been heated, and the questions raised can seem complex,” he said, just before signing it. “Yet, with the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?”
Note that Bush does not believe that history will be concerned with the question: Did we uphold our Constitution?
Bush said the law sends a “clear message: This nation is patient and decent and fair, and we will never back down from the threats to our freedom.”
But there is nothing “decent and fair” about it, and it only increases the threats to our freedoms.
For it shows us to be hypocrites, and it makes barbarism the rule.
Matthew Rothschild has been with The Progressive since 1983. His McCarthyism Watch web column has chronicled more than 150 incidents of repression since 9/11.