Tell me if this dead horse is still worth beating… Of course it is, because no one seems to give it more than a moment’s thought.
[Edit: Aaaaaaand today is the 220th anniversary of the Bill of Rights. Irony, anyone?]
The indefinite detention bill that is set to be signed into law has barely been mentioned in the mainstream media, even though it will be the single most damaging piece of legislation since the New Deal or perhaps since the Alien & Sedition Acts. If you need to be caught up, here is an excellent recap that highlights the dangers of the bill, and how nonsensical the definitions of words have become as to allow such an offense to your rights and human dignity. Cenk Uygur is rightly pissed off about it:
EXACTLY. Obama. Where is your hope and your change now? The guy ran on closing Guantanamo Bay, now he wants to open an indefinite detention center for American citizens. This man is still some people’s savior. And people say I am a cynic to be a misanthrope…
Ten years of the war on terror, decades of the war on drugs, and a century of growing government power in general, particularly in the presidency and various police authorities, have perhaps desensitized Americans to what is at stake here. As the proverbial frogs in the pot of water, we are accustomed to rising temperatures and so do not notice when our flesh begins to boil. Yet when the Senate overwhelmingly accepts the principle that the military should displace civilian courts even for citizens captured on American soil, it has adopted a standard of justice remarkably tyrannical even compared to America’s very rocky history.
. . .
Still, this is a new kind of war, as the majority of Senators clearly believe, including almost everyone from the supposed opposition party. An amendment to remove the Levin/McCain language was rejected 61 to 37. Only two Republicans—two!—Rand Paul and Mark Kirk—voted against this blatantly unconstitutional measure for military dictatorship. If anything demonstrates that the leaders of this party claiming to stand for liberty and the rule of law are in fact almost unanimously and adamantly opposed to these principles in the most important imaginable areas, this demonstrates it beyond a reasonable doubt. Indeed, the fact that John McCain, characterized in the 2008 presidential election as a “moderate” among Republicans on questions like torture, backed this bill, should reveal beyond question that had things gone differently in that election, we would not have likely gotten any sort of reprieve from the steady descent toward total tyranny that has characterized the Obama years.
And indeed Obama, for his part, offers no true alternative to the McCain-Republican line of the war on terror. The substance of this bill is essentially in line with everything Obama has done, and, for that matter, what Bush did for eight years, although without formal Congressional codification. Glenn Greenwald notes that the horrifying reality portended in this legislation “more or less describes the status quo. Military custody for accused Terrorists is already a staple of the Obama administration.”
. . .
The United States is not a free country, not even close. There are plenty of worse places in the world, for sure, but a key characteristic of something resembling a free society that adheres to something resembling a rule of law is that the executive branch cannot use the military to indefinitely detain people, regardless of citizenship or location, indefinitely without ever explaining itself to a court or affording the detainee some process to challenge his detention. Even with such protections, a free country requires more—a functioning legal system that respects property rights and free exchange; civil liberties including free speech and freedom from lawless search and seizure; the freedom of people to control their own bodies, homes, and businesses; protections against involuntary servitude; and a general respect for freedom of association. In all of these areas, America has lost some of its liberties, and they all must be restored if the country is ever going to deserve the label of a “free country.”
Yet one freedom without which the whole concept of liberty is a total mirage, befitting of a black comedy and best affirmed only in Orwellian doublespeak, is the freedom from unjust, lawless, indefinite imprisonment. Since 9/11, the United States has abandoned this principle in many respects. Predictably, it was war—threat of a foreign enemy—that allowed this fundamental freedom to be destroyed, initially in large part for foreigners whose rights and dignity were never even given a significant consideration as thousands were rounded up, many tortured, many killed, many detained to this day for no crime at all but being in the wrong place at the wrong time, whether seized by Pakistani war lords in exchange for American dollars or declared terrorists by a presidential military legal system several of whose own military prosecutors have resigned in disgust with the blatant injustice of the whole enterprise.
American citizenship doesn’t guarantee due process either, of course—it did not for Jose Padilla for almost four years of detention, nor for the citizens currently targeted for assassination by the Nobel Prize-winning Constitutional law professor sitting in the Oval Office. Today we are on the verge of seeing the last bits of this retreat from civilized standards of justice codified into law. Our political culture has degenerated so much that should the courts strike down these developments, I would not be surprised to see the court decisions ignored altogether or, alternatively, a successful effort to amend the Constitution and finally give the president and his military full dictatorial power over the United States.
Instead of taking away everyone’s rights, why won’t anyone look at what Ron Paul has been saying for years: Blowback is the reason for terrorism. At what point do we realize that when you go to your neighbors’ house and kick their dog every day, that dog will snap and bite you someday. Yes, fine, put the dog down. But don’t camp in the neighbors yard for 30 years, killing the owners, punching every passerby in the face, and trying to force “democracy” on all living beings down to every insect. That won’t gain you any friends. What in the hell is wrong with us, that we can’t look ourselves in the mirror and stop with the killing that results in more killing of our own? It is only those with no perspective of history who cannot see the solution to terrorism is not sponsoring terrorism of our own in the Middle East. How the candidates onstage at the Republican debates can pretend to support anything but Big Brother out of the most disgustingly dehumanizing of dystopian novels is beyond me when there is no line drawn to the amount of people we will kill, enemies we will make, rights we will take, dignity we will ignore, people we will starve, bank accounts we will empty, and sons we will tear from the arms of their mothers to exact revenge on people who we have been brutally teasing for decades just because we can:
[Paul’s comment on the matter observes that in this bill they have legalized martial law and shredded the Constitution all the while. I wonder why this topic hasn’t come up in the presidential debates…]
Do you need a list of reasons why people hate us the world over? I will give you the list, and if you are interested, you can go read about how the U.S. fostered democratic support of these dictators or how each were in the pocket of American statesmen:
- Abacha, General Sani —————————-Nigeria
- Amin, Idi ——————————————Uganda
- Banzer, Colonel Hugo —————————Bolivia
- Batista, Fulgencio ——————————–Cuba
- Bolkiah, Sir Hassanal —————————-Brunei
- Botha, P.W. —————————————South Africa
- Branco, General Humberto ———————Brazil
- Cedras, Raoul ————————————-Haiti
- Cerezo, Vinicio ———————————–Guatemala
- Chiang Kai-Shek ———————————Taiwan
- Cordova, Roberto Suazo ————————Honduras
- Christiani, Alfredo ——————————-El Salvador
- Diem, Ngo Dihn ———————————Vietnam
- Doe, General Samuel —————————-Liberia
- Duvalier, Francois ——————————–Haiti
- Duvalier, Jean Claude—————————–Haiti
- Fahd bin’Abdul-‘Aziz, King ———————Saudi Arabia
- Franco, General Francisco ———————–Spain
- Hitler, Adolf —————————————Germany
- Hassan II——————————————-Morocco
- Marcos, Ferdinand ——————————-Philippines
- Martinez, General Maximiliano Hernandez —El Salvador
- Mobutu Sese Seko ——————————-Zaire
- Noriega, General Manuel ————————Panama
- Ozal, Turgut ————————————–Turkey
- Pahlevi, Shah Mohammed Reza —————Iran
- Papadopoulos, George ————————–Greece
- Park Chung Hee ———————————South Korea
- Pinochet, General Augusto ———————Chile
- Pol Pot———————————————Cambodia
- Rabuka, General Sitiveni ————————Fiji
- Montt, General Efrain Rios ———————Guatemala
- Salassie, Halie ————————————Ethiopia
- Salazar, Antonio de Oliveira ——————–Portugal
- Somoza, Anastasio Jr. ————————–Nicaragua
- Somoza, Anastasio, Sr. ————————-Nicaragua
- Smith, Ian —————————————-Rhodesia
- Stroessner, Alfredo —————————–Paraguay
- Suharto, General ———————————Indonesia
- Trujillo, Rafael Leonidas ———————–Dominican Republic
- Videla, General Jorge Rafael ——————Argentina
- Zia Ul-Haq, Mohammed ———————-Pakistan
Go read about them if you are curious about the nitty-gritty. We love having our hands in everyone else’s business, and then we complain when our hand is slapped. Isn’t there reason to think that someday, someone will just chop it off? What will it take to get us to stop?
When will there be too much government? Is that even possible in the eyes of the men who expand it, contrary to their constant empty words about small government? No government since before King John has claimed this type of power over the people of a nation, and we should all be outraged:
They can read your email without a warrant or due process. They may soon be able to shut down an entire website domain for a mere claim of infringement without a warrant or due process. Now, they want to be able to put you in a cage without a warrant or due process. How long until the definition of terrorism spreads to include those who merely speak out against leviathan?