Interpret This…

Posted: July 23, 2010 in Past Articles

Habeas Corpus 1670 – 2006 Rest In Pieces. Well, it’s now official, we are screwed. I’m not sure if you noticed with all the hype over senator sex and Korean brand nukes last week, but in the fine print of most news reports just below the articles about Harry Potter’s demise, and the details over the new Playstation 3, there was a small blurb about a little piece of legislation that was passed into law on the morning of October 17th. The Military Commissions Act of 2006, even George Bush agrees, is perhaps the most important law he has enacted in his six years as president. It effectively brings us teetering on the brink of martial law.

Before I continue, I will list some of the provisions this act allows in no particular order:

1) The ‘Writ of Habeas Corpus’ has been permanently annulled for all non-citizens and it retroactively applies to the detainees of Gitmo and any other secret prisons.

2) It prohibits detainees from demanding the protection of the Geneva Convention and effectively usurps the convention’s international laws. It gives the chief executive the sole power to interpret this convention’s laws as he sees fit.

3) The president shall be allowed to interpret the definition of torture and make its use legal for any US organization. It retroactively makes those who have authorized its use immune to prosecution. It allows evidence attained through torture, hearsay evidence and coerced testimony to be used against the accused in a trial and denies the accused access to this evidence in order to prepare a defense. In addition, it limits the rights of a detainee to attain council of his or her choosing.

4) The president may convene military commissions in order to prosecute ‘unlawful enemy combatants’ and allows broad definitions of said ‘combatants’ for the chief executive for whomever and for whatever reason he chooses. Citizens so-designated will not have the right to a civilian court of law in place of these commissions. These commissions will have the power to impose death sentences and can be conducted in secrecy.

5) It allows the indefinite detention of said ‘combatants’ without the right to a speedy trial. These detentions may also be conducted in secret.

Now I don’t know about you but I for one cannot imagine what this will allow our “fearful” leader to be capable of for the next two years. God willing that is only as long as he’s in power. If someone who is secretly declared an “enemy combatant” was innocent, we will never know of it because they will be whisked away, held indefinitely, and perhaps even murdered without anyone the wiser. Furthermore, those innocent prisoners of Gitmo (which there are lots of according to many) will never have any hope of proving themselves so. This sounds extremely familiar to me and in an effort to avoid Godwin’s Law let us just say extremely, militaristic.

What really blows me away is that the rhetoric spewed forth by Chaney and Bush continually states that the War on Terror is for the protection and spread of freedom while at the same time they push Congress to enact laws which take those freedoms away. Perhaps we have forgotten the entire purpose of this ‘grand experiment’ called democracy was to avoid this exact type of tyranny. Many of the original settlers and indeed current immigrants to this nation came here to avoid secret prisons, false arrests, and government sanctioned murder, all because they were deemed ‘enemies of the state’ by their respective tyrannies.

Now perhaps it might be a good idea to flee the U.S. for fear that someone might be knocking down your door if you piss the wrong person off. Canada is looking better all the time. I’ll take the cold of winter over cold hard cell bars any day. However, if I renounce my citizenship I am even worse off than I was before. Pardon the expression but WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN THIS COUNTRY!!!

Normally I couldn’t care less about what the military and Washington want to do with their time, I transplanted to California to get as far away from them as possible, but seriously are we all in danger of being kidnapped and murdered?!? The author of the Declaration of Independence, a person I truly admire who may in fact be declared an ‘unlawful enemy combatant’ under these new laws, I quote now with extreme caution,

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness [. . . ] when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is [the people’s] right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

Jefferson then lists a long line of abuses that the king of England has enacted upon the colonies I am not going to list them all here but I suggest you Google the Declaration of Independence and read them yourself. How many of them ring familiar to you? I certainly am not abating revolt (you hear that out there I love America) but i am asking for the possible impeachment of a poor leader and a tyrant which is perfectly legal under our current laws, at least last time I checked. If our only hope of avoiding secret prisons is making sure that we don’t be declared the ‘enemy’ and if the definition of that term is made subject to executive discretion than how do we voice any dissent without fear of government reprisal. If no one knows of that reprisal what will stop them from whisking away anyone they want.

Finally, above all, I hope that we are not attacked again. Not just for the obvious reasons of loss of life and terrible tragedy, but now for fear of what my own government will do in order to ‘protect’ me. If this is how I am protected I would like a second opinion. The leader of Pakistan stated that the Iraq War has made us less safe than we were prior to 9/11 and generally speaking save for the few Bush fanatics out there (and I say that because in order to continue supporting this guy you got to be nuts) nobody thinks we are winning this war on terror. Moreover, I am truly more terrified of what my own government is going to do next than I am with a bunch of pissed off Muslims living in caves.

Hold on there is someone knocking on my door . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

First Printed –October 20, 2006

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