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Rushing Off a Cliff

by Pamela Leavey

Ouch! If there was ever a moment for a filibuster, this was it.”

Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.

Republicans say Congress must act right now to create procedures for charging and trying terrorists — because the men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks are available for trial. That’s pure propaganda. Those men could have been tried and convicted long ago, but President Bush chose not to. He held them in illegal detention, had them questioned in ways that will make real trials very hard, and invented a transparently illegal system of kangaroo courts to convict them.

The detainee bill is bad, bad news. The N.Y. Times point out in their editorial:

Last week, the White House and three Republican senators announced a terrible deal on this legislation that gave Mr. Bush most of what he wanted, including a blanket waiver for crimes Americans may have committed in the service of his antiterrorism policies. Then Vice President Dick Cheney and his willing lawmakers rewrote the rest of the measure so that it would give Mr. Bush the power to jail pretty much anyone he wants for as long as he wants without charging them, to unilaterally reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, to authorize what normal people consider torture, and to deny justice to hundreds of men captured in error.

Stand up and fight damn it.

UPDATE: The Senate is in the midst of debate over the “detainee bill.” It’s clear there is no hope to stop this nightmare from passing. If ever it appeared we are living in a dictatorship, it’s now. The dark lord Dick Cheney, has made certain in re-writing this bill that all rules are thrown out the window. John McCain caved to the dictatorship last week and this is the result:

These are some of the bill’s biggest flaws:

Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.

The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.

11 Responses to “Rushing Off a Cliff”

  1. Chris Dodd just gave a wonderful speech in the Senate. .text is worth readiing. Will try to find text and post it. His theme was basically, “We used to be known as the nation of Nuremberg [ where we did everything right in terms of serving justice to criminals through the rule of law], but I fear we will be known as the nation of Guantanamo.” He mentioned the absurdity of devising a “jurisprudence of pain”.

  2. MBK

    I hear JK will speak on the floor today, too. Trying to get a time a approx. Sad times, very sad times.

  3. I heard some of the debate in the House yesterday on CSpan Radio. From what I heard it looks like the Dems aren’t accepting the compromise and are calling it what it is. There were at least 3 outbursts from the gallery and one person had to be removed by the sergeant at arms. Very sad times indeed, but I am encouraged that the rep’s I heard were fighting back.

  4. “allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible”

    I hope they torture the crap out of them!

  5. And for what? All the president has done is to make the world a more dangerous place. The leaked CIA report documents this.
    Do you feel safer? Heck no.
    .
    This congress and the president have gone mad.

    Liberty is never defined by the whip…

    Its time to reclaim the ideals of liberty and human decency.

    If its a question of what action. Well it’s time to do what Martin Luther king did in the 60′s and just flat Speak out and start by refusing to play by their games.

    And that is to stop living in fear and to start acting out in humanity.

    http://www.personaltao.com/tao/freedom.htm

    The question is , where is the leader to speak up and pull the people together on the issue?

    any ideas? Maybe Christopher Walken?

    He said he would take the job of prez :)
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=tgqpMChtOD8

    peace
    casey

  6. “All the president has done is to make the world a more dangerous place”

    Let’s be clear about this, it was the terrorists who flew planes into the towers. It was terrorists who struck the Cole. It was terrorists who bombed the Marine barracks in Lebanon. It was terrorists who killed the Israelies in Munich. It was terrorists that have been striking the west for the last 35 years! And it was George Bush who FINALLY stood up to them and declared war against terrorism over the objections of you weak kneed liberals!

  7. The fact that these detainees have been held in illegal detention, questioned in ways that would make real trials very hard, and the use of illegal kangaroo courts to convict them, states the obvious: “Guiltlessness” is not an option!

    What we the American people should be asking is Why? What our Democratic representives should be asking is why? Even republican John McCain should be asking why?

    If in fact each and every detainee is guilty due to readily availble, factual evidence, then a trail by the laws established by the Geneva Conventions should be acceptable as well as able to convict them justly.

  8. “The fact that these detainees have been held in illegal detention”

    What’s illegal? What countries government are they fighting for? Where are their uniforms?

    “questioned in ways that would make real trials very hard”

    What ways are you referring to? Knowing what you are about to say, do you have proof?

    “What we the American people should be asking is Why?”

    Because they want to kill us! You liberals might consider yourselves expendible, I’m not!

    “a trail by the laws established by the Geneva Conventions”

    You lefties know very well that it doesn’t apply to them. Why you have so much sympathy for them is very puzzling. You act as if they are travelling salesmen who just happened to pick up an abandoned rifle on a battle field in view of an American Marine!

  9. “Stand up and fight damn it”
    Says it all indeed.

    There are a few that are fighting, JK, uncle ted, and I certainly don’t want to demean their standing up but both of these parties absolutely are a disgrace.

    One is a sadistic lapdog for the bushies and their underlings and the other is road kill for the bushies/rovians.

    Not to worry the same dems will roll over for warrant less wiretaps to. Can’t disappoint the masses by actually standing up for the constitution they swore to uphold.

  10. rightwingtroll

    Our government has a $5000 bounty on terrorist. In Iraq and Afghanistan criminal elements kidnap innocent people for this bounty. Off to prison go these innocent people for years with no rights. Please leave us your name and address so that when this administration starts to implement this policy here in the US anyone so inclined can raise some extra money by turning you in.

  11. Elmercreek

    Great idea – let’s start passing the collection basket tonight! ;)