September 29, 2006

Don't really know what to say today...

To say that I am sick to my stomach about the atrocity that took place in the hallowed halls of Congress in the last two days would not even come close to the disgust, fear, and grief that I feel today. The image above shows Senators McCain, Warner and Graham leaving a news conference after the passage of the bill that strips from people labeled as "enemy combantants" the most basic judicial rights:

  1. If detained by the authorities, being told why you are being detained, and if not told, having the right to go before a judge to find out
  2. If detained, charges must be filed against you within a certain amount of time, or you must be set free (You've all watched Law and Order, haven't you?)
  3. When you are finally tried, to see the evidence against you so that you can DEFEND YOURSELF
  4. And finally, the evidence against you cannot be heresay or the result of coercion or torture.
Well, that's all out the window now. If the "gentlemen" in the above picture look ashamed as they walk away from their press conference, they should. And we should all be appalled.

And I don't want to hear anyone screeching, "But these are terrorists! They want to k-i-l-l us! Mommy!!!!"

Really? How do we know they are terrorists? Do they have a special tattoo? A membership card? Isn't that what courts are supposed to decide? Not one man. Not one woman. The courts. You know, where evidence is presented and a judge (and usually a jury) looks at the evidence and decides, "Hey yeah, this guy is a bad dude, he needs to be locked up for a long time." OR "Holy crap, did the prosecution get this one wrong."

And what terrifies me the most is the idea that one man, George W. Bush, is allowed to determine who is a "terrorist" or "enemy combatant."

The law allows for the detention of anyone suspected of committing or conspiring to commit terrorist acts to be held indefinitely, with no charges ever being brought against them in a court of law, but also the detention of those who are suspected of supplying "material support" of such activities.

The problem is that there is all this vague language flying around, and I'm not refering to the Geneva Conventions proscription against attacks on human dignity that Dear Leader can't seem to wrap HIS head around. What part of human dignity is so hard to get? No. I am talking about words like "enemy combatant" or "material support." Could we get a legal definition please? What activities make one an enemy combatant? What is material support?

Because I have heard a lot of rhetoric from the right-wing section of the country, and especially from Republican leaders, including Dear Leader, that pushes the idea that people like me, who question their policy, are providing aid and comfort to the enemy. I suppose that would make me an enemy combatant in some circles. Who gets to decide? According to this legislation: George W. Bush.

And so one of these days, under this new law, I could be picked up off the street, hauled into jail, never be told WHY they are "detaining" me, have no opportunity to go before a judge and ask why I am being held, be subject to "alternative interrogation techniques (torture)," and be brought to trial under a confession I made after being subjected to these techniques. Worse, I may be brought to trial based on someone else's confession extracted by torture, or someone's hearsay testimony, and I wouldn't be allowed to see the evidence against me because it's a national security "secret."

Today it feels like the terrorists have won. I'm just not sure anymore who are the real terrorists; the ones in the caves, or the ones in suits and ties. Because if those suits could throw away 230 years of American jucicial law and 900 years of the right of Habeus Corpus because of some cave dwellers in Pakistan, then what the hell is America anyway?

We no longer have a country based on the rule of law. Yesterday the US Senate made George W. Bush king.


DesertBeacon said...

In 1791 we said that the judicial amendments were necessary for the protection of the nation. In 2006 the Republicans said that shredding the Constitution was necessary to protect the people. My conclusion is that Republicans are more worried about feeling "comfy" in their exurban bedrooms than they are in protecting their nation.

Good post.

cls said...

Probably because they have no idea what our nation really is. Make that: WAS.