Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Our national shame

I'm directing you to an article called "BUSH REGAINS POWERS OF MONARCH" by Bill Gallagher. It's about our loss of habeas corpus through the bill President Bush signed one week ago today. Here are a couple of excerpts:

The greatest shame is the scarcity of shame. The president of the United States and his toadies in Congress pulled off an unprecedented frontal assault on our most fundamental "unalienable rights," and most Americans snored through the event.
The Military Commissions Act of 2006 reaches far beyond its narrow and innocuous title. Simply stated, the president of the United States can now, on his authority alone, declare that you, or any American citizen suspected of helping or aiding "illegal enemy combatants," can be whisked away and imprisoned indefinitely without even being charged with a crime.

No public statements, no affidavits and no information brought before a judge or grand jury. Our long-tested process of justice gets tossed for a "star chamber" system, where the president alone can point to someone as "dangerous" or "disloyal" and can order that person to be locked up.

You have no recourse to go before civilian court and demand to know why you are being held. You can rot in prison for the rest of your life based exclusively on the president's discretion. You can be separated from your family and held in a secret prison. Your loved ones may never be told what happened to you.

While imprisoned, you may be subjected to "coercive interrogation" -- a euphemism for torture -- and the statements you make while being water-boarded can and will be used against you.

If you ever are charged, you will go before a secret military tribunal, where secret evidence can be used against you. You have no right to see that evidence or to confront your accusers. You have no right to legal representation.

We have returned to the House of Hanover rules. The king does as he pleases. The people must accept his benevolent protection and shut up about quaint notions of civil liberties and human decency. The decider decides what is fair and just. We must accept what he decides without question.

The problem is that the king is not benevolent. Yes, I know Gallagher was being sarcastic there but it's an important point nevertheless. The king punishes dissent (go read the rest of the article and you'll see what I mean) and tortures people. And, yes, it is shameful that we have no shame. Why weren't there protests in the streets over this bill? Maybe we've completely lost the confidence that protest will do any good.

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