By Aaron Sussman
On October 17th, with Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales, and Donald Rumsfeld standing behind him, George W. Bush solemnly announced, â€œin memory of the victims of September 11th, it is my honor to sign the Military Commissions Act of 2006 into law.â€
It is apt that Bush invoked a terrifying assault on America as he signed the Military Commissions Act (MCA), legislation that chisels away at our civil liberties, abets and immunizes top-level torturers, and strikes at the core of American values and tradition. The message that Bush gave when he signed the Defense Bill in 2005 is now truer than ever:
â€œOur enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.â€
â€œIn memory of the victims of September 11th,â€ Bush passed a law that Robyn Blumner of the St. Petersburg Times calls â€œan obscenity against liberty and decencyâ€ and that the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) calls â€œunconstitutional and un-American.â€ A fitting tribute indeed for the victims whose names have been manipulated by this administration to justify everything from invading Iraq, to the USA PATRIOT Act, to torture, to tax cuts. This â€œhonorâ€ to the victims of September 11th is a national disgrace for which the Bush administration, both houses of Congress, and the media are to blame.
While the White House struggles to convince the nation that the MCA is perfectly legal and essential in order for the CIA to continue â€œone of the most successful intelligence efforts in American history,â€ the true implications of this act must be made clear. Out of the many dubious clauses in the act, the most egregious is the one that eliminates the writ of habeas corpus (the right to challenge the legality of oneâ€™s imprisonment), a fundamental right that dates back to the Magna Carta. In his First Inaugural Address in 1801, Thomas Jefferson said, â€œFreedom of the person under the protection of the habeas corpus I deem [one of the] essential principles of our government." Ironically, the Supreme Court case, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which held that Bushâ€™s original military tribunals were illegal and made the Congressionally approved MCA necessary, would never have occurred if the MCA had been in effect, as it was petitioned by a detainee.
By Ramzy Baroud
On Election Day, America took a step that history may show to have been absolutely crucial in saving this republic. At a time when the soul of America has been gravely endangered by our ruling powers, the American people have handed significant power back to the opposition party. Perhaps they will be an effective check on the hitherto unchecked power of this usurpatious presidency.
But winning even an important battle is not winning the war (if you will allow the martial metaphorâ€“ indeed, in a meaningful sense, this IS war).
To continue to roll back these dark forces, it is imperative that the opposition exercise its new powers wisely. In the coming days, I hope to explore here what that may require. I will begin now with some thoughts â€“and a questionâ€“ about what the Democrats should do with their new-found power to conduct investigative hearings.
by Dave Lindorff,
The big losers on Election Day were of course President Bush and the Republican Party, but there was another loser too: the conspiracy theory that had it that a slick operation run out of Karl Roveâ€™s office, and working in cahoots with the makers of the electronic voting machines increasingly being installed by voting districts around the country would steal the key elections electronically.
I always felt that this conspiracy theory was over the top, and that it moreover was having the pernicious effect of creating massive cynicism about elections that would keep many people from voting who otherwise might have.
There's no way to know how many people didn't go to the polls because they decided that it would be a waste of time, but I sure have heard plenty of people saying, over the past year, "What's the point? The Republicans are going to steal the election anyway."
Well, if they were ever going to steal an election, this would have been the one to do it to. The last thing a criminal president whose popularity is in the cellar needs is a Congress armed with subpoena power in the hands of the opposition party. Surely, if Karl Rove could have tinkered with the numbers on those voting machines in just a few dozen districts, or in states like Montana or Virginia where the margin was a few thousand votes, and where the key voter registrar officials were fellow Republicans, he would have done it.
Instead, we saw dozens of congressional races and a handful of key Senate races switch to the Democrats, and sometimes by the narrowest of margins.
by Mickey Z.
In a recent correspondence, Adam Engel wrote: "One of the greatest myths
about America is that it's the 'home of the brave.' Once, perhaps, prior to
1492. Now, it's most likely the greatest collection of cowards in the Milky
Way Galaxy." Engel specifically mentioned our lack of response to losing
habeas corpus and to being both "subject to eternal imprisonment for
liberating animals from vivisection labs" and "complicit in the murder of
hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Palestinians, Lebanese, Afghanis, South and
Central Americans, Haitians etc. etc. etc."
He could've also included our acquiescence in a frighteningly broad range of areas, e.g. access to health care, tolerance for voting irregularities, directly funding the Israeli war machine, and stomaching the groupthink behind saluting a flag. Americans talk the talk but when ordered to remove their shoes before going through airport security, it's "yes sir" all the way.
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For the purposes of this article I'd like to highlight another area in which American bravery is lacking...an area I have touched on before: supporting the troops. As John Kerry's recent episode demonstrated, one cannot appear to criticize the men and women in uniform without paying a high price. There are many who identify themselves as "anti-war" who will vigorously defend the troops. Even when faced with documented evidence of criminality, Americans still cannot summon the bravery to condemn the military.
As Don Rumsfeld is tossed overboard by the panicky Bushes (who value loyalty to themselves above all other virtues but never, ever, practice it toward others; there will be many more bodies left behind as the Family rallies to clean up Junior's mess again), Steve Gilliard steps in below to remind us that what we are actually dealing with here is not politics, not some Beltway horse race, or some idiotic media game of "who's up, who's down." The issue is mass murder -- thousands of Americans, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis -- and human suffering beyond imagining for millions more.
This is the reality. This is what really matters about Rumsfeld and the other architects of the war crime in Iraq. And although all the talk about the election's political ramifications for the Bush Administration is entertaining and diverting, as most gossip is, and not without some importance, on the most essential level it is a moral obscenity.
For when Bush opens his mouth, clotted bits of corpseflesh tumble out; when he walks, he wades through pools of human blood. And behind him, skittering and scooting in the blood-slick on their hands and knees, come all his ministers, handlers and toadies, come all the media sycophants who eagerly peddled his lies, come all the war profiteers who fill their bank vaults with hacked limbs, blown guts, crushed heads and mounds of viscera -- their treasure, their prize. Are we really supposed to be concerned about the political standing of such wretches? Should we not be outraged that they are allowed to walk among free people, much less exercise power and dominion over the nation? Why do they have any "political standing" at all?
And yet, they do. This too is reality, and we must deal with it.