GoogleIt Mail IT Print IT PermaLinkThrow The Bums Out. All 65 Of Them.
01:31:40 AM

The US Senate voted today to throw out 900 years of legal protection for the rights of free citizens. That's according to Senator Arlen Specter, who voted for the measure. He should be ashamed, because he clearly actually knows and understands what he is doing. 64 more voted for the bill. 34 voted against. All Senate Republicans voted for, except Chafee. 12 Democrats voted for as well. Read Glenn Greenwald's summary of the legalization of indefinite detention and torture of US citizens at the whim of the President.. The list of Democrats who voted for the bill is there, too. Every one of them should be thrown out. Every one. If you don't have time to read Greenwald's detailed account, here are a few points from Kevin Schofield's summary:

  • It allows the Pentagon to designate any US citizen, on US soil, as an "enemy combatant" and then lock them up indefinitely without a trial.

  • It revokes habeus corpus (aka the right of judicial review) for military commissions and enemy combatants.

  • It gives the President the right to interpret the Geneva Conventions as he sees fit, including but not limited to authorizing the torture of detainees.

  • It is now being rushed through committee so that the House can approve it before Congress recesses to go run for re-election.

  • This is from the people who keep telling us that terrorists hate us because "they hate our freedoms." Including the ones you just took away.

The sad thing, actually, is that we can't vote them all out, because only 33 come up for for re-election this year. And even sadder, that means that at least 31 voted for this bill without being under the duress of having to run this year. Sad, and postively shameful.

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Comments :v

1. Ian Randall09/29/2006 04:14:12 AM

This law is simply allowing US Citizens to be treated in the same shabby way as foreign nationals have been treated outside of the US by the US Government and Military.

For example, David Hicks (an Australian Citizen) has been imprisoned on the United States military’s detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for nearly five years, and he hasn’t been convicted of anything.

As things stand, unless the Australian government intervenes on his behalf, he has no chance of being released in anything like the near future. He has also been granted UK Citizenship, and the UK Government is also unlikely to demand his release as they have with other UK detainees illegally held by the US Military.

While the legal and ethical issues are complex, there is much more involved in Hicks’ case than an injustice and wrong being done to Hicks. It raises the question of whether his detention is legally justified at all, and whether the acts he is alleged to have done were crimes when he did them, and even if they were crimes, whether they have anything to do with why he is being detained.

It raises the question of how international criminal law is made, or is being made, and in Hicks’ case, a consideration of the little understood and seldom thought about law of war, and how it is being made. Any law that justifies the taking away of a person’s liberty should always be as certain as possible, and that has not been so in Hicks’ case.

Hicks’ imprisonment is a consequence of his having been captured in Afghanistan. He was there as a member of an irregular international Taliban militia, fighting, or being ready to fight, on the side of what was then the Taliban de facto government of Afghanistan and its military forces that were then resisting the United States’ armed forces invasion to remove it. The Taliban government was believed to be harbouring the al Qaeda terrorist organisation following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Hicks was captured by an Afghanistan armed force, the National Alliance, that was opposing the government forces, and handed over to the Americans, who sent him to Guantanamo Bay. Even the Afgan born Taliban fighters charged with the same "crimes" have been released from Guantanamo Bay, so why was Hicks singled out for such special treatment?

Two-and-a-half years later the US military charged him with three crimes: conspiracy, aiding the enemy and attempting to murder Americans.

Ordinarily, criminal law is something a sovereign state enacts in relation to events that occur within its own state or territory, and is usually called its “domestic criminal law”. Alongside a state’s domestic criminal law, there is international criminal law, and in this particular case, the law of war.

An early question that has to be asked in Hicks’ case is by whose or which criminal law were the acts Hicks is alleged to have committed made crimes?

Given these facts, I think that it is only fair that the US Government treat their own citizens with the same flagrant disregard of legal rights as other foreign nationals.

2. Kerr09/29/2006 04:21:45 AM

Land of the free.

3. andy b09/29/2006 08:05:37 AM

But isn't it the 'job' of the legislative branch to 'push' the boundaries and conversely the job of the judical branch to reel them back in when the executive branch actually tries to inforce the laws that the legislative branch has mandated?

I mean that is the whole purpose of checks and balances. Until the judical branch has ruled and accepted a law, then nothing has really been taken away from 'all of us' (just the poor sucker that is the example the court has to rule on.)

While I agree that it is a very poor decision on behalf of the legislature, until it is enforced, appealled, and upheld, then nothing has really been lost. Of course, if it does make it to the Supreme court the bench is stacked with a more 'government power' (I won't say conservative, because I think that term is useless in today's world) slant, but I don't think that even they would rule in favor of this for a typical citizen.

4. Chris Whisonant09/29/2006 08:42:06 AM

Democracy in action...

5. Bruce Perry09/29/2006 10:38:04 AM

This is shameful. I can't understand why nobody chose to filibuster it. Sure, the Supremes will almost certainly deem it unconstutional, but why not stand up in favor of freedom and our constitution?

6. Nathan T. Freeman09/29/2006 10:38:36 AM

Guess I just got back to Amerika, eh?

Well, living in the 3rd world for two years has made me appreciate the fabulous wealth of the US, but hasn't endeared it's politicians to me at all. *sigh*

7. Andrew Pollack09/29/2006 10:19:41 PM

The strange thing is that we've been doing it to ourselves for a very long time, and only now are we making it public -- but we still don't care.

I agree 100% with you, Richard. The senate should be evacuated like the bowels of an old woman in the Sudan suffering from cholera.

How's that for an image?

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