Sunday, October 01, 2006

Once again I have had to take a few steps back before I wrote something. Yes friends, politics is becoming that infuriating to me. This is not some partisan rant either. My fear that our democracy is failing is growing.

Recently both the House and the Senate passed legislation, the US Military Commissions Act of 2006, that suspends the right of habeas corpus to alleged enemy combatants. You know, the bad guys those crazy Middle Eastern guys that want to take away your freedom. This legislation also allowed for the use of torture and effectively puts US agents who use torture above the law. HOORAY FOR OUR TEAM!

Relax I’m kidding.

Let’s examine these one by one.

The only slight upside I see to this suspension of habeas corpus is that the judicial system should strike it down as unconstitutional. Note that I said should and not would. With how the Republicans have been packing the courts with conservative judges over the last several years, I’m not betting the farm that it will happen. It should happen but I’m not guaranteeing it. Now our Constitution does allow for suspension of habeas corpus in times of rebellion or invasion. Last time I checked we had neither of those. So until the courts strike it down hopefully, the United States can hold people in jail on suspicion of being a terrorist for as long as they want without any kind of court hearing. So even innocent men can now sit in a jail for what would seem like an eternity just to keep America safe. If given the choice between guys with shoe bombs and a government that can imprison people for as long as they like without habeas corpus, I’ll take my chances with the shoe bombs.

I’ve already written that torture is both immoral and ineffective. So it is essentially worthless. So apparently it makes someone, an ex-cheerleader perhaps, feel awfully manly to have it at his disposal. If Bush’s favorite philosopher truly is Jesus Christ maybe he should reread what Jesus said. He should read all that “Blessed are the peacemakers” goodness. Maybe “Blessed are the merciful” is a little too advanced for him. I can make no sense of a man who spoke at the 2004 RNC about a “mission from beyond the stars”. Which I must admit at the time made me think that Bush was an alien and thought that would explain an awful lot. But, I must get back on topic so pardon my little off topic remark. Anyway If Bush is truly this devout Christian there is no way he could condone water boarding or sexual humiliation. There is no rationalization for the way he treats these alleged terrorists. Notice I said alleged because they have not faced trial and have not been convicted. Also if these are criminals let’s put them on trial, convict them and put them in a real jail. Let’s not hold them forever in these new gulags.

Now in so far as US officials not being subject to prosecution for torturing detainees that were captured before 2005 all I’m going to say is this. If you need to know why the United States of America is not universally loved. If you need to know why foreigners resent us just look at this provision. America has a nasty tendency to consider itself above the rest of the world. If we don’t abide by international laws or even our own law and treat people fairly what reason is there for the rest of the world not to treat us like thugs? If we refuse to obey international law then why should any nation have any respect for our laws? This is a dangerous position we put ourselves in. If we really want to keep ourselves safe from terrorism we need to build bridges not burn them.

We live in dangerous times. We have been wiretapped, our phone records collected and now habeas corpus has been put aside. We are now a nation that endorses torture. We are a now a nation that considers civil liberties a hindrance in the war on terror. When this nation was founded it was truly revolutionary. This nation placed the power in the hands of the people and gave them protection from the government oppression. Now those freedoms are fading. A quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin has been tossed around a lot lately, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” It’s been used a lot lately because it’s germane to our situation. We are allowing the very ideas that made our nation so great be swept away in the names of fear and ignorance.


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