The Keys To The Kingdom

 Congress, Constitution, Politics, Presidency, The Courts, War  Comments Off on The Keys To The Kingdom
Oct 032006

I wrote a long article yesterday about the detainee law, passed by our Republican Senators (except for Chafee of Rhode Island) and Republican Congress people and by 12 Democrats.

These…. people… crazy people… very, very scared people?… voted to dump the Magna Carta protections of being able to confront your accuser, and said it’s okay to lock up “suspected terrorists” FOR LIFE without trial or anyway of protestng their innocence, you know sort of like in The Man in the Iron Mask.

I mean, they’re SUSPECTED, we don’t know they were picked up and identified correctly. We’ve already heard about the innocent Canadian man, picked up at an airport, sent off to Syria where he was tortured, and then years later was returned to Canada, without so much as a “thank you for your time, sorry to have bothered you.”

Read this blog by H. Constance Gorman, a lawyer who is donating her time to represent a detainee at Guantanamo.

She has been representing a man “swept up” in Afghanistan and falsely accused by “bounty hunters” who were paid by the US for pointing out terrorists — now that’s an idea that has no chance of getting false i.d.’s, doesn’t it? Pay informants in a scary country, for sure there won’t be any mistakes made, will there?

And this man has been in Guantanamo for 5 years. His daughter was 6 months when he was taken. And of course he’s just been there, uncharged, left to rot. And he’s ill as well.

So to people like this, the Congress has said to President Bush: yes, you have our permission, go do more of this.

Don’t worry if you make some errors. We prefer that innocent people be locked up for life with no recourse, as long as we can feel safe. And so we can tell the scared people in America – we are protecting you! Because that’s the kind of America we love! Safety first, to hell with laws, they’re inconvenient, they’re for mushy liberals who don’t know the value of shock and awe. Who cares if innocent people are harmed? Not us! Not John McCain or Lindsay Graham or John Warner, our maverick moderate Republicans. They turn out to be Mickey Mouse mavericks.

AND the Congress and the Mickey Mouse mavericks have allowed the Cheney-inspired rewriting of the term “enemy combatatant” so it has been broadened beyond people “found on the battlefield,” and it now includes people who “aid and abet” the terrorists… and this open-to-interpretation phrase could probably be applied to American citizens — it doesn’t preclude that — and it is all to be determined SOLELY by President Bush. That makes me feel safe!

Not only is Bush infallible like the Popes used to be, but he is so stable. Do you notice how frayed and angry he is all the time, repeating his few sentences about why we must stay fighting in Iraq until the cows come home, or even if only Laura and the dog are the only ones who agree with him?

Such resolute sticking to his beliefs! No matter what else anyone else thinks, he will continue saying “I am right, I am right, I am right.” Whew!

Thank you, everyone who voted for him. Twice. Thank you, to those in Ohio who helped steal that particular state for Mr. Bush in the last election. Kisses to you, Mr. Blackwell, in particular. (Kenneth Blackwell was the blatantly unfair Secretary of State in Ohio at the time, and like Katherine Harris was also the head of the Bush re-election campaign. No conflict of interest there. And like Ms. Harris, impeccable in his fairness to the sanctity of the vote.)

But back to the detainee bill — who might these more broadly defined “aiders” to the enemy be?

Well, Senator Patrick Leahy in his speech on the Senate floor, speaking against the passing of this bill, gave as an example someone who maybe gave to lots of charities, and gave unknowingly to one that happened to funnel money to, say, Hamas….well, with the wording of this law, Mr. Bush could lock that person up and keep them from seeing a lawyer and just never hold a trial or even accuse them. Forever. I’m told Senator Graham said that sort of thing wouldn’t happen… but is it wise to ever put that in a law, so it’s possible?

(This broadening of the definiton of “enemy combatant” happened AFTER the compromise bill was agreed on, the rewriting came from Cheney’s office the weekend before the vote, and I’m sure Graham-McCain-Warner wanted to be good Republicans and not upset the “united Republican front” so as to hurt the election. So they capitulated. They did stop Bush from literally rewriting the Geneva Conventions. And they got any accused the right to see classified information against them … though edited, who can say how much. But they didn’t fight hard enough,they caved in without fixing this bad bill; and the President is still given ENORMOUS, crushing power by the bill. But who cares as long as we all feel “safe”? Who cares as long as it’s not us who is arrested falsely?)

Who else could be accused by Mr. Bush of “aiding and abetting” and be locked away for good without a trial? Maybe editorial writers who criticize the war? Huffington Post bloggers? Maybe… instead of paying bounty hunters for tips, neighbors could be encouraged to anonymously accuse other neighbors of aiding and abetting.

With the detainee law, the Republican Senators and Congressmen (with the help of 12 Democrats) basically said to Bush, “Here are the tools to be a dictator, go forth and …have fun with it.” It is the worst legislation ever passed in my lifetime, and I am in my late 40s.

Here is another explanation of the dangers of this bill in a cogent post by Aziz Hug on “junking checks and balances.”

As has been said before, facism does not arrive in long black coats and jackboots, but quietly it sneaks in during the night.

This detainee bill is really bad. No President, and especially not President Bush, should be given such power. To lock people up without any recourse, for as long as the War on Terror lasts, which could be forever. Are they kidding? How could they pass such a law?

Our Republican Hamlet, Senator Arlen Specter, bravely put forth an amendment that would have reinstated the Magna Carta habeaus corpus protections of being guaranteed a court hearing to proclaim one’s innocence and know what one was accused of. But it lost – 48 to 51. Then Mr. Specter, after saying the lack of such protection set the rule of law back 900 years, went ahead and voted for the whole bill anyway. Why?

I don’t understand Republicans. Even the moderates who stand up to Bush for a few moments ultimately cave in to this dangerous adminstration, and to the fear-based atmosphere that has overtaken our country. I truly fear for the soul of this country.

Call or write your representatives and demand better.

Waiting For The Black Helicopters

 Congress, Constitution, Politics, Presidency, The Courts  Comments Off on Waiting For The Black Helicopters
Sep 302006

Since I’ve been blogging about the abuses, lies and failures of the Bush administration, a former co-worker and good friend used joke with me to, “watch my back,” and that I could expect to find black helicopters hoovering over my house any day now. Others have given me advice, “These people are capable of anything. Stay off small planes, make sure you aren’t being followed.”

I always laughed and shook my head whenever I heard this stuff. Extreme paranoia wrapped in the tinfoil of conspiracy, I thought. This is still America, and these Bush fools will soon pass into history, I thought. I am a citizen, and the First Amendment hasn’t yet been red-lined, I thought.

Matters are different now.

It seems, perhaps, that the people who warned me were not so paranoid. It seems, perhaps, that I was not paranoid enough. Legislation passed by the Republican House and Senate, legislation now marching up to the Republican White House for signature, has shattered a number of bedrock legal protections for suspects, prisoners, and pretty much anyone else George W. Bush deems to be an enemy.

So much of this legislation is wretched on the surface. Habeas corpus has been suspended for detainees suspected of terrorism or of aiding terrorism, so the Magna Carta-era rule that a person can face his accusers is now gone. Once a suspect has been thrown into prison, he does not have the right to a trial by his peers. Suspects cannot even stand in representation of themselves, another ancient protection, but must accept a military lawyer as their defender.

Illegally-obtained evidence can be used against suspects, whether that illegal evidence was gathered abroad or right here at home. To my way of thinking, this pretty much eradicates our security in persons, houses, papers, and effects, as stated in the Fourth Amendment, against illegal searches and seizures.

“Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable – already a contradiction in terms – and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.”      Continue reading »