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17 October 2006

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lina

"Enormous and unchecked new power now has been given to a White House whose officials at first called Zacarias Moussaoui the "20th hijacker" but were wrong; who at first called Jose Padilla the "dirty bomber" but were wrong; who at first called Yaser Hamdi such a threat to national security that he could not even be allowed to talk to his attorney -- until they decided to set him free. Freedom from judicial review now has been given to the same administration officials who allowed Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen whom we now know that they knew was not a terrorist, to be transferred to Syria for torture. Vague or narrow definitions of torture now have been given to the executive branch operatives who are responsible for Abu Ghraib. New powers have been given to the people who brought us the National Security Agency's domestic spying program, the one that some legal experts say violates both federal law and the Constitution."

[Andrew Cohen, Wash Post, 10/18/06]
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/17/AR2006101701090.html

Leigh

At what point does George I (or is he II or IV?), call off the next elections? That is the point of all this, isn't it? To not surrender power.

I fear for my grandchildren. I truly do. It reminds me of Martin Nieboller's "When they came for the Jews, I said nothing..."

Leila

I thought it was only smarmy leftists who worried about this sort of thing? The way it sounded on NPR today, the bill is just about making sure we can properly prosecute terrorists...

So what is a citizen to do about it?

robt. willmann

I think that the republic ended before today, mainly from legislation passed by the branch of government that is supposed to be closest to the people, namely, Congress.

The laws [sic] passed after September 2001 were a speeding up of the destruction of the democratic republic, but were not the beginning. The Anti-Patriot Act, the Homeland Security Act, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2005 (which established the National Intelligence Director), the Anti-Patriot Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005, and now the Military Commissions Act are an acceleration of the process that began with the odd events of Sept. 11, 2001.

I recently came back from the place Def. Sec. Rumsfeld sardonically referred to as ``Old Europe'', where I saw only three obese people in three weeks. But obesity is not our worst problem. The march to authoritarianism and oligarchy is really happening, as today's signing of the Military Commissions Act shows.

I have only had time to skim parts of the new law, but the language is tricky, vague, and, as to torture, convoluted and seemingly contradictory.
The legislation demonstrates the worst features of written legal language.

Right off the bat is section 2. It says ``The authority to establish military commissions under chapter 47A of title 10, United States code, as added by section 3(a), may not be construed to alter or limit the authority of the President under the Constitution of the United States and laws of the United States to establish military commissions for areas declared to be under martial law or in occupied territories should circumstances so require.''

What do you think that means?

The coverage of the law is set up in a devious way, which allows for easy expansion to cover all of us and indoctrinates the reader to accept definitions that could, with a change in one sentence, include all U.S. citizens as being triable before a military commission. The definitions section defines an unlawful enemy combatant as ``a person who has engaged in . . . .''
This would include all U.S. citizens, except for section 948c, entitled ``Persons subject to military commissions'', which purports to limit coverage by saying, ``Any alien unlawful enemy combatant is subject to trial by military commission under this chapter.'' An Alien is defined in section 948a(3) as a person who is not a citizen of the United States.

Just quietly remove the word ``alien'' from section 948c and--bingo!--everybody in the U.S. of A., citizens and non-citizens alike, can be detained and tried before a military commission for political dissent and demonstrations, because the term ``unlawful enemy combatant'' is nice and vague and is not limited to war, but makes you an unlawful enemy combatant if you engage in ``hostilities'' or ``materially support hostilities'' against the United States. It doesn't limit the scope of coverage to those of you who kill someone or even cause serious bodily injury. All you have to do is engage in ``hostilities''. You know, just being hostile to the U.S., as determined by the executive branch, is enough.

They will argue that the laundry list of crimes triable before the commissions in section 950v will protect you and limit the scope of coverage, but don't bet on it.

A real bear trap is in section 5, which goes beyond aliens and says: ``No person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto in any habeas corpus or other civil action or proceeding to which the United States, or a current or former officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the United States is a party as a source of rights in any court of the United States or its States or territories.'' So this means that outside of military commissions, even if you are a U.S. citizen, you cannot use the Geneva Conventions or any of its protocols if you are detained or even if you file a civil lawsuit.

The legislation as finally passed is Senate Bill 3930. You can view or download the obscene text at:

http://thomas.loc.gov

It will take several readings to try to get a handle on all the traps in this law, and we should try to force ourselves to do so.

And when it comes to laws passed by congress that end the republic, let's not forget the Help America Vote Act, which promotes electronic voting machines. You know, your vote is now counted by a proprietary software program, the operation of which cannot be monitored, and which permits no recount. But since that statute is dependent on each state accepting the federal bribe money, which then obliges the state to follow that law, your state can reject coverage of the Help American Vote Act and can then outlaw the use of the machines.

As the November election approaches, we can remember the line that some attribute to old Joe Stalin: ``it's not who votes that counts, it's who counts the votes.''

zanzibar

Once freedoms and liberty are handed over, it will be very difficult to regain. We have lost the republic while the majority of the citizenry are not even aware that it has happened - until one in their family is named an enemy combatant. Future generations will remember these days of infamy. It happened on our watch!

4 billion

"Rep. Peter King: Conditions on the ground are different than what you see on television.—As we go through the city of Baghdad, it was like being in Manhattan. I’m talking about bumper to bumper traffic. Talking about shopping centers, talking about restaurants, talking about video stores, talking about guys–on the street corner, talking about major hotels. And so, at that moment, people must be amazingly resilient and you would never know that there was a war going on…

…in Mosul—I remember seeing news reports about roller coasters. Where you had two or three parking lots filled with their cars on a Sunday afternoon. Again, that’s not something you’d see on television, and at any given time a suicide bombers can walk into an amusement center, but the point I’m making is that the situation is more stable than you think…."

We can only hope that one day, our democracy is as good as Iraq's.

I wait with baited breath as to miraculous nature of the repup victory in the next pres. election, that is, if King Cheney and prince Rummy feel we can afford such a destabilising event, in a time of war. A kind of war that we have never been in before, therefore it requires new 'countermeasures'. I mean, the 'tradition' of Habeas Corpus has been been ditched to "fight this war", so why not ditch democracy? it has been around alot less time than HC.

Instead of Brown shirts, they will have either blue or white shirts, I lean more to white, cos you get that Klan, business, private school feel, all in one colour.

4 billion

ps: I am not to shabby at chess, Orange looks good on me and I am Agoraphobic.

4 billion

pps.

“So while in theory he can continue to hold people in secret, he is clearly prohibited from engaging in the types of abuse that seem to be the entire basis and motivation for the program,”

Hmm, thats reassuring, makes for a great Court case: "your honor, during the said period in which my client was 'not in custody of the US', he was tortured by the US", kinda hard to prove responsibility, if there is no evidence of being in custody.

BWJones

While the US has before suspended habeas corpus in the civil war, we thankfully resolved this problem soon after. I can only hope and pray that this gross abuse of American politicking will be resolved with haste and those that support and encourage this behavior will be voted out. Otherwise, we have joined those notable governments that reserve the right to unilaterally and without review declare people enemies of the state.

Patrick Kennedy

I don't know much about Hayden and Pace but I have admired Senator Warner for a long time. How did we come to the point where someone like Senator Warner would support a bill that would give the President the power to declare an American citizen an enemy combatant with none of the usual legal protections citizens get?


I was born in 1950 and lived through the cold war where we and the Soviets had thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at each other. What makes this time so different that congress would pass a law like the one the President just signed?


I understand that we have an executive branch that is extreme to the point of breaking the law when it comes to expanding its power. But what has happened to people like Senator Warner and much of the rest of the republican party in Washington, DC? Why are they going along with this?

Peter VE

Fly your flag at half staff. It's the least we can do to show respect for the late Republic.

Robert Willman: I think you've been reading the original version of S 3930. The currently posted version has already taken care of that pesky little "alien". The orginal House version of the bill (HR 6166) included a provision to define "Illegal Enemy Combatants" as "(ii) a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense."
The original Senate version (S 3930) omitted this definition. The Senate later added it in (after publishing the version omitting the changes after the bill was passed: the first Thomas posting of the bill as passed is the one I think you are referring to.). The MSM picked up the original Senate version, and rushed to assure us that it only applied to the aliens.
We are all subject to the whims of his Majesty now.
I look forward to President Clinton declaring John Yoo to be an illegal enemy combatant just prior to signing the repeal of this travesty.

MarcLord

PL:

Jesus wept.

Whether it's chess or checkers, smoke moves before fire.

Chuck

Lina, you forgot the non-existant Lodi (CA) branch of Al Qaida--and the guy who's still doing time for being a part of it.

arbogast

Colonel Lang, you are right.

Grimgrin

1.) "Triumph of the know-nothings". Modern politicians seem to avoid information the way vampires avoid sunlight, for the simple reason that if you know the facts of a situation, they might conflict with the most expident or ideologically correct policies. How can we expect people who have turned avoiding thinking about the possible consequences of their actions into an art form to consider the dangers of the legislation they sign?

2.)"The personality cult", Bush has positioned himself as the protector of the nation, rather than an official in charge of executing the laws. They have managed to, in many cases sucessfully frame oppostion to the president as an atempt to undermine America's security. The wheels are quickly coming off this one, but he's had a good five years to cudgel people with that narative.

3)"If you can keep it". Periodically a poll will come up like this one: http://www.constitutioncenter.org/CitizenAction/CivicResearchResults/NCCTeens'Poll.shtml

Uneducated people cannot be functioning citizens in a republic or a democracy. If you can't critically evaluate events, you wind up as part of one mob or the other, depending on which demogogue is most appealing to you. What we're seeing now is the consequence of a neglected educational system.

4.)"Cash, Rules, Everything, Around, Me". Look at the Abramoff scandall, or the K street project. Laws are not just written to reward lobbyists and doners, they're sometimes written by lobbyists. How can an organization where survival depends on maintaining the flow of cash be effective at anything besides maintainign the flow of cash?

5.)"People who watch The Daily Show are better informed than people who watch Cable news" When a comedy program that describes itself as a 'fake news show' provided as much information as traditional news outlets, well, something is badly badly broken in the mechanisms that are supposed to keep the citizenry informed about their world.

wcw

They think they'll never lose another election.

If it wouldn't be so miserable for me and my three hundred million fellow residents, I would wish on them that they lose the next election to a north-american Džugašvili.

James

Why would someone with only two years left in office pass a law that another president could use against the Republicans?

And that new president has 4 or more years to use the law.

Oh heck...the law is so badly written it's not gonna be around for long anyway.

Rider

Most of the venal politicians who voted for this know that the Supreme Court will declare it unconstitutional. It is a pre-election political stunt, albeit an extremely damaging and dangerous one. As Juan Cole points out today, it gives Bush (and any other president, provided elections are not also suspended to protect us from terrorists) the power to issue lettres de cachet.

confusedponderer

So America eventually got herself her enabling act, and formalised the 'Unitary Executive Branch' theory intop formal law.

Best of luck. She'll need it.

pbrownlee

There is a long history of the great and the good regarding any criticism of themselves as treason. While the removal of checks and balances usually results in the clowns-in-chief acting with exuberant self-destructiveness, perhaps chess is as good a way as any to while away the time before the Apocalypse. Or Go.

dust

hmm maybe this is what makes new country projectes wher civil rhigets and libertarin ideas are strong made real ? maybe it will be a ideas to build up milita after all and not let anybody use youer owen propety... its start to lisen much like how A-C (freemarket anarchists )say how the state works..

John Howley

In every dark cloud there is a silver lining...perhaps Rummy will resign now that he has immunity from war crimes prosecution?

Will

It gives a new interpretaion of Ezekial's statue at VMI The one with Liberty sitting down holding her head in her hand. Mourning the lost liberties fought for and won from 1776-1783.

Best Wishes

Got A Watch

Preserve democracy and freedom - arrest top Republicans now!

The Nuremberg Judgment included the following statement:

"The charges in the indictment that the defendants planned and waged aggressive wars are charges of the utmost gravity. War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

Bush/Cheney/Rumsfield/Rice would look great in orange.

Mary

Mr Lang, I've pondered your choice of the term "subject" instead of citizen. When Bush says....'the safety of American citizens' I hear PEASANT coming through much stronger than the word "subject". What say?

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